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LEGAL ETHICS CASES 20-25

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
Adm. Case No. 2655 July 9, 1987
In re: Complaint against ATTY. PATRICIO A. ASOY, LEONARD W.
RICHARDS, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. PATRICIO A. ASOY, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N
PER CURI AM:
In a Complaint formalized by the Bar Confident on April 29, 1986, pursuant to the Resolution of
this Court, dated February 10, 1986, Respondent Atty. Patricio A. Asoy as retained counsel of
Complainant, Leonard W. Richards, an Australian, was charged with Malpractice for non-
attendance at Court hearings, negligence and lack of zeal in prosecuting a civil case for damages,
resulting in its dismissal for lack of interest and/or failure to prosecute.
Prior to the aforesaid formal Complaint, Leonard W. Richards had filed a letter-complaint on
June 29, 1984 with the Chief Legal Officer, Tourist Division, Department of Tourism followed
up with another letter dated July 13, 1984 to the Chief Justice denouncing Respondent's
actuations.
Required to comment in a Resolution, dated August 8, 1984, Respondent failed to do so despite
service of the Resolution together with a copy of the letter-complaint. The Court (First Division)
required Respondent to show cause why he should not be disciplinary dealt with or held in
contempt for such failure, but all efforts to serve copy of the show-cause Resolution on
Respondent at his six (6) available addresses as well as through the national and the Tacloban
Chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines proved futile. Since, unquestionably,
respondent had gone into hiding and was evading service of pleadings/orders/processes of this
Court, we suspended him from the practice of law in a Resolution dated November 11, 1985.
Copies of the Resolution were circularized to all Courts nationwide with the directive that should
Respondent appear before any lower Court, the latter shall serve upon him a copy of the show-
cause Resolution and require him to appear within five (5) days thereafter before the Deputy
Clerk of Court and Bar Confidant.
Flushed out, on December 2, 1985, Respondent filed a Manifestation/Motion for Reconsideration
"submitting himself voluntarily to the jurisdiction of the Court," denying any violation of his
oath as an attorney, which would warrant his suspension, and praying that in the interest of due
process and on broader grounds of substantial justice, the order of suspension be lifted and that
he be excused from appearing before the Bar Confidant by reason of distance and financial
constraints. Respondent gave his address as "Room 302 Abalos Bldg., Aguinaldo St., Iligan
City."
In a resolution dated February 10, 1986, the Court denied the lifting of the order of suspension
but excused Respondent from appearing before the Deputy Clerk of Court and Bar Confidant. In
the same Resolution, and as stated initially, the Bar Confidant was directed to formulate the
administrative complaint and respondent to answer the same within five (5) days from receipt of
notice.
The background facts disclose that on April 23, 1982, Complainant retained Respondent as
counsel in CC No. 0181-P before the Regional Trial Court, Branch CX, Pasay City, entitled
"Spouses Anita M. Richards & Leonard Richards vs. Danilo A. Felindario, et al." It was a suit
for damages allegedly due to faulty workmanship and non-compliance with specifications in the
construction of the RICHARDS house and swimming pool at Johann Menzi St., Phase III, BF
Homes, Paranaque, Metro Manila.
Among the terms and conditions in their contract for legal services were the payment by
Complainant to Respondent of an acceptance fee of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00)
payable upon the signing of the agreement, and a fee of P300.00 for each Court appearance. The
acceptance fee was fully paid by Complainant on April 30, 1982, the initial payment having been
made on April 26, 1982.
1
On October 21, 1982,
2
Complainant and his family left permanently
for Australia after selling their house to a third party.
On June 20, 1983, Civil Case No. 0181-P was dismissed by the Trial Court without prejudice
"for lack of interest on the part of plaintiffs as shown by the absence of their counsel despite due
notice."
3

On August 15, 1983, the case was reinstated after the reconsideration sought by Respondent on
July 13, 1983 was granted by the Trial Court. According to Complainant, reconsideration must
have been sought by Respondent only because in Complainant's letter, dated June 7, 1983, he
had already sought the assistance of Major Fred de Vera of the Bureau of Tourism Services
regarding his complaint against Respondent.1avvphi1
In an Order dated October 20, 1983, the Trial Court again dismissed the case for "lack of interest
and/or failure to prosecute," "it appearing that plaintiffs' counsel was duly notified as indicated
by his signature appearing on the record, it appearing further that notwithstanding said notice,
said counsel for the plaintiffs is not in Court today." The Trial Court further observed that "this is
the second time that this case was dismissed for failure of plaintiffs' counsel to appear despite
notice."
4

In his Answer, Respondent states that he was delayed in filing the same as he had to temporarily
reside and hold office at Tubod, Lanao del Norte, by reason of his temporary appointment as
Provincial Administrator of Lanao del Norte effective March 11, 1986; that his inability to
prosecute the case was because Complainant left for Australia without furnishing Respondent his
address and that he was unable to shoulder the burden of paving the fees required for the services
of expert witnesses besides the fact that his daughter was stricken with cerebral palsy; that he had
no intention to delay Complainant for money, that the Administrative Complaint does not
comply with the requirements of Section 1, Rule 139 of the Rules of Court; and that he was
deprived of due process of law inasmuch as Section 30, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court requires
that an attorney be heard before he is removed or suspended. Respondent then prayed that,
pending investigation, his suspension be lifted and that after due hearing the Complaint be
dismissed and Complainant held liable for payment of all damages suffered by Respondent
during the investigation of this case.
In his letter-reply, dated February 13, 1987, addressed to the First Division Clerk of Court,
Complainant stated that he had paid P15,000.00 to Respondent
5
to handle the case for him
conditioned upon Respondent's prosecuting the case to completion, attending all scheduled
hearings and keeping Complainant posted on the progress of the case; that at the time he engaged
Respondent's services, the latter was the Manager of Personnel and Legal Affairs of Asia
International Builders Corporation in Makati, which had connections with an Australian
counterpart in Melbourne; that he had paid Civil Engineer Mendoza P5,000.00 for the inspection
of the house and that the latter was to be the only expert witness so that Respondent's excuse that
he (Respondent) had no funds with which to pay for expert witnesses is "entirely untrue"; that he
paid an additional P1,300.00 to Respondent for other expenses like filing fee and other
miscellaneous items
6
and that his total expenses relevant to the case aggregate P34,300.00; that
he had informed Respondent of his address in Australia in letters dated November 26, 1982.
February 1, 1983 and June 5, 1983; that Respondent has the financial means to reimburse
Complainant considering his present and former position; and that he is prepared to withdraw his
complaint if reimbursed by Respondent in the amount of P34,300.00.
The facts, as disclosed, require no further evidentiary hearing, and speak for themselves. Res ipsa
loquitur. The Orders of the 'Trial Court dismissing Civil Case No. 181-P are of record and
Respondent's excuse that he can no longer recall them is feeble. Respondent's side has been fully
heard in the pleadings he has filed before this Court. A trial-type hearing is not de riqueur. The
requirement of due process has been duly satisfied. What due process abhors is absolute lack of
opportunity to be heard.
7

Contrary to Respondent's claim, the lack of verification in the Complaint formulated by the Bar
Confident, as required by Sec. 1, Rule 139 of the Rules of Court, is not a fatal defect since the
original letter-complaint, which was forwarded to this Court by the Chief Legal Officer, Ministry
of Tourism, had been sworn and subscribed to by Complainant before the Bar Confidant.
Respondent is guilty of grave professional misconduct. He received from Complainant, his
client, compensation to handle his case in the Trial Court, but the same was dismissed for lack of
interest and failure to prosecute. He had abandoned his client in violation of his contract ignoring
the most elementary principles of professional ethics.
8
That Respondent had ignored the
processes of this Court and it was only after he was suspended from the practice of law that he
surfaced, is highly indicative of his disregard of an attorney's duties to the Court. All the facts
and circumstances taken into consideration, Respondent has proven himself unworthy of the trust
reposed in him by law as an officer of the Court.
Consistent with the policy to maintain the high traditions and standards of the legal
profession, insure the observance of legal ethics, protect the interests of clients and help
keep their faith in attorney's-at-law, the Supreme Court is constrained to disbar a member
of the bar who violates his lawyer's oath for failure to properly attend to a client's case not
only once, but on two occasions, with results highly prejudicial to the interest of the
latter.
9

Furthermore, since Complainant's rights as Respondent's client have been prejudiced by the
latter's failure to take the steps necessary for the prosecution of the case Complainant may
recover as a result of such gross negligence and grave professional misconduct.
10

If a judgment is obtained against a party upon a complaint which is radically defective,
and he desires to appeal, and procedures bondsmen, but his attorney neglects to do so
until the time for appeal expires, the attorney is guilty of gross negligence, and is liable
for the loss sustained by the client.
11

ACCORDINGLY, for malpractice and violation of his oath as a lawyer, 1) respondent Atty.
Patricio A. Asoy is hereby ordered DISBARRED; and 2) he is hereby ordered to reimburse
complainant, Leonard W. Richards, in the sum of P16,300.00 (P15,000.00 + P1,300.00), the only
sums substantiated by the evidence on record,
12
within thirty (30) days from notice hereof.
Copies of this Resolution shall be circulated to all Courts of the country and spread on the
personal record of respondent Atty. Patricio A. Asoy.
Copy of this Resolution shall likewise be furnished Complainant Leonard W. Richards, via
airmail, at his address of record, 4/169 Avoca Street, Randwick NSW 2031, Australia, with copy
furnished the Department of Foreign Affairs for onward transmittal to the Philippine Consulate
General, Sydney, Australia.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras,
Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 98149 September 26, 1994
JOSE V. DEL ROSARIO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and DE DIOS MARIKINA TRANSPORTATION CO.,
INC., respondents.
Ponce Enrile, Cayetano, Reyes & Manalastas for petitioner.
Orlando B. Braga for private respondent.

VITUG, J .:
Petitioner suffered physical injuries, requiring two (2) major operations, when he fell from, and
then was dragged along the asphalted road by, a passenger bus operated by private respondent
transportation company. The incident occurred when the bus driver bolted forward at high speed
while petitioner was still clinging on the bus door's handle bar that caused the latter to lose his
grip and balance. The refusal of private respondent to settled petitioner's claim for damages
constrained petitioner to file, on 26 June 1985, a complaint for damages against private
respondent.
After the reception of evidence, the trial court, on 11 December 1989, rendered its decision, the
dispositive portion reading thusly:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered dismissing defendant De Dios
Marikina Transportation Co., Inc.'s counterclaim for lack of merit and ordering
said defendant to pay plaintiff Jose V. Del Rosario: (a) the sum of P76,944.41, as
actual and compensatory damages; (b) the sum of P15,000.00, as moral and
exemplary damages; and (c) the sum of P33,641.50, as attorney's fees, a s well as
to pay the costs of suit; and, as regards the third-party complaint herein, ordering
third-party defendant First Quezon City Insurance Co., Inc. to indemnify third-
party plaintiff
De Dios Marikina Transportation Co., Inc. in the sum of P12,000.00, with interest
thereon at the legal rate from date of filing of the third-party complaint on August
20, 1985, until full payment thereof. Further, there being no satisfactory warrant,
therefor, the Court hereby dismisses the rest of the claims in the complaint and
third-party complaint herein.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
On appeal to it, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the findings of fact of the trial court, as
well as the grant to petitioner of damages, but it reduced the award for attorney's fees from
P33,641.50 to P5,000.00. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration questioning the reduction of
attorney's fees was denied by the appellate court. Hence, this petition raising this sole issue.
We see merit in the petition.
There is no question that a court may, whenever it deems it just and equitable, allow the recovery
by the prevailing party of attorneys fees.
1
In determining the reasonableness of such fees, this
Court in a number of cases
2
has provided various criteria which, for convenient guidance, we
might collate thusly:
a) the quantity and character of the services rendered;
b) the labor, time and trouble involved;
c) the nature and importance of the litigation;
d) the amount of money or the value of the property affected by the controversy;
e) the novelty and difficulty of questions involved;
f) the responsibility imposed on counsel;
g) the skill and experience called for in the performance of the service;
h) the professional character and social standing of the lawyer;
i) the customary charges of the bar for similar services;
j) the character of employment, whether casual or for establishment client;
k) whether the fee is absolute or contingent (it being the rule that an attorney may
properly charge a higher fee when it is contingent than when it is absolute); and
1) the results secured.
In this instance, the complaint for damages was instituted by petitioner in June 1985, following
the refusal of private respondent to settle petitioner's claim, and the decision thereon was
promulgated by the court a quo only in December 1989 or about four years and six months later.
Several pleadings were filed and no less than twenty appearances were made by petitioner's
counsel, not counting the various other pleadings ultimately filed with the Court of Appeals and
now before this Court. Given the nature of the case, the amount of damages involved, and the
evident effort exerted by petitioner's counsel, the trial court's award of attorney's fees for
P33,641.50 would appear to us to be just and reasonable.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED, and the decision of the Court of
Appeals is MODIFIED by REINSTATING the trial court's award of attorney's fees.
SO ORDERED
Feliciano, Romero, and Melo, JJ., concur.
Bidin, J., is on leave.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

A.C. No. 3283 July 13, 1995
RODOLFO MILLARE, petitioner,
vs.
ATTY. EUSTAQUIO Z. MONTERO, respondent.

QUIASON, J .:
This is a complaint for disbarment. Pursuant to paragraph 2, Section 1, Rule 139-B of the
Revised Rules of Court, this Court resolved to refer it to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
On April 15, 1994, the IBP Board of Governors rendered a decision, finding respondent guilty of
malpractice and recommending that he be suspended from the practice of law.
I
Pacifica Millare, the mother of the complainant, obtained a favorable judgment from the
Municipal Trial Court, Bangued, Abra (MTC) which ordered Elsa Dy Co to vacate the premises
subject of the ejectment case (Civil Case No. 844). Co, through respondent as counsel, appealed
the decision to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Bangued, Abra (RTC). She neither filed a
supersedeas bond nor paid the rentals adjudged by the MTC. The RTC affirmed in toto the
decision of the MTC.
The Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed Co's appeal from the decision of the RTC for failure to
comply with Section 22 of B.P. Blg. 129 and Section 22(b) of the Interim Rules and Guidelines
(CA-G.R. CV No. 11404). According to the CA, Co should have filed a petition for review and
not an ordinary appeal (Rollo, Vol. I, p. 22).
The judgment of the MTC became final and executory on November 19, 1986.
On January 2, 1987, a Manifestation and Motion was filed by respondent as counsel for Co in
CA-G.R. CV No. 11404, arguing that the decisions of the MTC and the RTC were null and void
for being contrary to law, justice and equity for allowing the lessor to increase by 300% the
rentals for an old house. Respondent, admitting his mistake in filing an ordinary appeal instead
of a petition for review, prayed that he be allowed to file an action for annulment.
On February 23, 1987, the CA gave due course to respondent's Manifestation and Motion and let
the records remain with it. However, on November 10, 1987, the said court ordered the records
in CA-G.R. CV No. 11404 to be remanded to the court a quo.
On March 9, 1987, respondent filed with the CA a Petition for Annulment of Decisions and/or
Reformation or Novation of Decisions of the MTC and the RTC (CA-G.R. SP No. 11690),
insisting that the decisions were not in accordance with existing laws and policies. On December
17, 1987, the CA dismissed the petition for annulment or novation explaining that
. . . , aside from the reliefs provided in these two sections (Secs. 1 & 2, Rule 38),
there is no other means whereby the defeated party may procure final and
executory judgment to be set aside with a view to the renewal of the litigation,
unless (a) the judgment is void for want of jurisdiction or lack of due process of
law, or (b) it has been obtained by fraud, . . . . There is no allegation in the
present complaint to the effect that the judgments in the former cases were
secured through fraud (Rollo, Vol. I, p. 35; Emphasis supplied).
On January 15, 1988, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Set
Motion for Reconsideration for Oral Arguments of the CA decision. The CA denied the motion.
Again, respondent requested the CA to set his Motion For Oral Arguments on April 14, 1988.
In a resolution dated February 12, 1988, the CA denied the Motion for Oral Argument and in a
resolution dated October 18, 1988, denied the motion for reconsideration of the February 12
Resolution.
Respondent then filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with this Court (G.R. No. 86084)
questioning the decisions of the MTC and the RTC in favor of petitioner's mother. In a
Resolution dated January 4, 1989, we denied the petition for having been filed and paid late on
December 12, 1988 and November 12, 1988, respectively. A motion for reconsideration from
such resolution was likewise denied with finality.
Respondent filed a Motion for the Issuance of a Prohibitory or Restraining Order (dated July 6,
1988) in CA-G.R. SP No. 11690.
On April 12, 1988, the mother of complainant filed a Motion for Execution of the judgment in
Civil Case No. 844. Respondent filed an Opposition to the Motion for Execution on the ground
that the case was still pending review by the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 11690 and therefore the
motion for execution was premature. On August 23, 1988, the MTC ordered the issuance of a
writ of execution. Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied. The RTC
affirmed the order for the issuance of the writ of execution. Thus, a writ of execution was issued
on October 18, 1988.
On October 26, 1988, respondent filed a special civil action (SP CV No. 624) with the RTC,
Branch 1, Bangued, Abra for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus with preliminary injunction
against the MTC, Provincial Sheriff and complainant's mother, seeking to annul the writ of
execution issued in MTC Civil Case No. 844 and RTC Civil Case No. 344. Respondent alleged
that the order granting the writ of execution was issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack of jurisdiction since a petition to annul the decisions (CA-G.R. SP No. 11690) was still
pending with the CA.
On October 28, 1988, the provincial sheriff, Romulo V. Paredes, deferred the implementation of
the writ of execution until the petition filed in SP CV No. 624 for certiorari was resolved. The
CA denied in SP CV No. 624 respondent's Urgent Motion to Set Aside and Declare Null and
Void the Writ of Execution.
From the decision of the RTC, Branch 1, Abra in SP CV No. 624 denying the Petition
for Certiorari, Prohibition,Mandamus with Preliminary Issuance of Prohibitory Order,
respondent again filed an Appeal and/or Review byCertiorari, Etc. with the CA (CA-G.R. SP
No. 17040).
II
We have no reason to reverse the findings of the IBP Board of Governors.
Under Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is required to represent his
client "within the bounds of the law." The Code enjoins a lawyer to employ only fair and honest
means to attain the lawful objectives of his client (Rule 19.01) and warns him not to allow his
client to dictate the procedure in handling the case (Rule 19.03). In short, a lawyer is not a gun
for hire.
Advocacy, within the bounds of the law, permits the attorney to use any arguable construction of
the law or rules which is favorable to his client. But the lawyer is not allowed to knowingly
advance a claim or defense that is unwarranted under existing law. He cannot prosecute patently
frivolous and meritless appeals or institute clearly groundless actions (Annotated Code of
Professional Responsibility 310 [1979]). Professional rules impose limits on a lawyer's zeal and
hedge it with necessary restrictions and qualifications (Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics 579-582
[1986]).
Under Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is required to exert every
effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice.
Implementing said Canon are the following rules:
Rule 12.02. A lawyer shall not file multiple actions arising from the same
cause.
xxx xxx xxx
Rule 12.04. A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a
judgment or misuse court processes.
It is unethical for a lawyer to abuse or wrongfully use the judicial process, like the filing of
dilatory motions, repetitious litigation and frivolous appeals for the sole purpose of frustrating
and delaying the execution of a judgment (Edelstein, The Ethics of Dilatory Motions Practice:
Time for Change, 44 Fordham L. Rev. 1069 [1976]; Overmeyer v. Fidelista and Deposit Co.,
554 F. 2d 539, 543 [2d Cir. 1971]).
The rights of respondent's client in Civil Case No. 844 of the MTC were fully protected and her
defenses were properly ventilated when he filed the appeal from the MTC to the RTC. But
respondent thereafter resorted to devious and underhanded means to delay the execution of the
judgment rendered by the MTC adverse to his client. The said decision became executory even
pending its appeal with the RTC because of the failure of Co to file a supersedeas bond and to
pay the monthly rentals as they fell due. Furthermore, his petition for annulment of the decisions
of the MTC and RTC which he filed with the CA (CA-G.R. No. 11690) was defective and
dilatory. According to the CA, there was no allegation therein that the courts had no jurisdiction,
that his client was denied due process, or "that the judgments in the former cases were secured
through fraud."
As ruled in Regidor v. Court of Appeals, 219 SCRA 530 (1993):
A judgment can be annulled only on two grounds: (a) that the judgment is void
for want of jurisdiction or for lack of due process of law, or (b) that it has been
obtained by fraud. . . . (at p. 534).
Moreover, when the CA ordered that the records of the case be remanded, respondent knew very
well that the decision of the MTC was already ripe for execution.
This Court, in People of Paombong, Bulacan v. Court of Appeals, 218 SCRA 423 (1993), ruled:
. . . [w]hen the judgment of a superior court is remanded to the trial court for
execution, the function of the trial court is ministerial only; the trial court is
merely obliged with becoming modesty to enforce that judgment and has no
jurisdiction either to modify in any way or to reverse the same. . . . (at p. 430).
(See also Valenzona v. Court of Appeals, 226 SCRA 306 [1993] and Garbo v. Court of Appeals,
226 SCRA 250 [1993]).
Respondent filed a total of six appeals, complaints or petitions to frustrate the execution of the
MTC judgment in Civil Case No. 844, to wit:
(1) Civil Case No. 344 Appeal from the decision rendered in Civil Case No.
844 of the Municipal Trial Court, Bangued, Abra, with the Regional Trial Court,
Abra;
(2) CA-G.R. CV No. 11404 Appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial
Court, Abra;
(3) CA-G.R. SP No. 11690 An Action For the Annulment of Decisions And/Or
Reformation or Novation of Decisions filed with the Court of Appeals;
(4) G.R. No. 86084 Petition For Review On Certiorari filed with the Supreme
Court;
(5) CA-G.R. SP No. 17040 Appeal And/Or Review By Certiorari, Etc. filed
also with the Court of Appeals; and,
(6) SP Civil Action No. 624 Petition For Certiorari,
Prohibition, Mandamus with Preliminary Issuance of Prohibitory Order filed with
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 1, Bangued, Abra.
Judging from the number of actions filed by respondent to forestall the execution of the same
judgment, respondent is also guilty of forum shopping.
In Villanueva v. Adre 172 SCRA 876 (1989), the Court explained that forum shopping exists
when, by reason of an adverse decision in one forum, defendant ventures to another for a more
favorable resolution of his case. In the case of Gabriel v. Court of Appeals, 72 SCRA 272
(1976), this Court explained that:
Such filing of multiple petitions constitutes abuse of the Court's processes and
improper conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade the administration
of justice and will be punished as contempt of court. Needless to add, the lawyer
who filed such multiple or repetitious petitions (which obviously delays the
execution of a final and executory judgment) subjects himself to disciplinary
action for incompetence (for not knowing any better) or for willful violation of his
duties as an attorney to act with all good fidelity to the courts and to maintain
only such actions as appear to him to be just and are consistent with truth and
honor (at p. 275).
By having wilfully and knowingly abused his rights of recourse in his efforts to get a favorable
judgment, which efforts were all rebuffed, respondent violated the duty of a member of the Bar
to institute actions only which are just and put up such defenses as he perceives to be truly
contestable under the laws (Garcia v. Francisco, 220 SCRA 512 [1993]). As correctly noted by
the Committee on Bar Discipline "in filing a number of pleadings, actions and petitioner,
respondent 'has made a mockery of the judicial processes' and disregarded canons of professional
ethics in intentionally frustrating the rights of a litigant in whose favor a judgment in the case
was rendered, thus, 'abused procedural rules to defeat ends of substantial justice'" (Report and
Recommendation, IBP Committee on Bar Discipline, p. 2).
WHEREFORE, respondent is SUSPENDED for one year.
SO ORDERED.
Padilla, Davide, Jr., Bellosillo and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A. M. No. 2104 August 24, 1989
NARCISO MELENDREZ and ERLINDA DALMAN, complainants,
vs.
ATTY. REYNERIO I. DECENA, respondent.

PER CURIAM:
In a sworn complaint
1
dated 25 September 1979, the spouses Erlinda Dalman and Narciso
Melendrez charged Reynerio I. Decena, a member of the Philippine Bar, with malpractice and
breach of trust. The complainant spouses alleged, among others, that respondent had, by means
of fraud and deceit, taken advantage of their precarious financial situation and his knowledge of
the law to their prejudice, succeeded in divesting them of their only residential lot in Pagadian
City; that respondent, who was their counsel in an estafa case against one Reynaldo Pineda, had
compromised that case without their authority.
In his answer dated 18 March 1980, respondent denied all the charges levelled against him and
prayed for the dismissal of the complaint.
By resolution dated 14 April 1980, the administrative complaint was referred to the Office of the
Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation.
Accordingly, the Solicitor General forthwith deputized the City Fiscal of Pagadian City, Jorge T.
Almonte, to conduct the necessary investigation, with instructions to submit thereafter this report
and recommendation thereon. Fiscal Almonte held several hearings on the administrative case
until 15 July 1982, when he requested the Solicitor General to release him from the duty of
investigating the case.
On 10 September 1982, the Solicitor General granted Fiscal Almonte's request and in his stead
appointed the Provincial Fiscal of Zamboanga del Sur, Pedro S. Jamero, who resumed hearings
on 15 June 1983.
Respondent filed with this Court on 9 June 1987, a motion seeking to inhibit Fiscal Jamero from
hearing the case followed by an urgent motion for indefinite postponement of the investigation.
Both motions were denied by the Court in a Resolution dated 21 September 1987 with
instructions to the Solicitor General to complete the investigation of the administrative case and
to render his report and recommendation thereon within thirty (30) days from notice.
On 19 July 1988, the Solicitor General submitted his Report and Recommendation
2
dated 21
June 1988. In as Report, after setting out the facts and proceedings held in the present case, the
Solicitor General presented the following:
FINDINGS
Complainants allege that on August 5, 1975, they obtained from respondent a loan
of P 4,000.00. This loan was secured by a real estate mortgage (Annex C,
Complainants' Complaint, p. 16, records).lwph1.t In the said Real Estate
Mortgage document, however, it was made to appear that the amount borrowed
by complainants was P5,000.00. Confronted by this discrepancy, respondent
assured complainants that said document was a mere formality, and upon such
assurance, complainants signed the same. The document was brought by
complainant Narciso Melendres to a Notary Public for notarization. After the
same was notarized, he gave the document to respondent. Despite the assurance,
respondent exacted from complainants P500.00 a month as payment for what is
beyond dispute usurious interest on the P5,000.00 loan. Complainants religiously
paid the obviously usurious interest for three months: September, October and
November, 1975. Then they stopped paying due to financial reverses. In view of
their failure to pay said amounts as interest, respondent prepared a new document
on May 7, 1976, a Real Estate Mortgage (Annex D, Complaint, p. 18, records)
over the same lot 3125-C, replacing the former real estate mortgage dated August
5, 1975, but this time the sum indicated in said new contract of mortgage is P
10,000.00, purportedly with interest at 19% per annum. In this new Real Estate
Mortgage, a special power of attorney in favor of respondent was inserted,
authorizing him to sell the mortgaged property at public auction in the event
complainants fail to pay their obligation on or before May 30, 1976. Without
explaining the provisions of the new contract to complainants, respondent insisted
that complainants sign the same, again upon the assurance that the document was
a mere formality. Unsuspecting of the motive of respondent, complainants signed
the document. Complainants Narciso Melendres again brought the same
document to a Notary Public for notarization. After the document was notarized,
he brought the same to respondent without getting a copy of it.
Complainants, relying on the assurance of the respondent that the second Real
Estate Mortgage was but a formality, neither bothered to ask from respondent the
status of their lot nor tried to pay their obligation. For their failure to pay the
obligation, the respondent on October 12, 1976, applied for the extrajudicial
foreclosure of the second real estate mortgage (Exhibit 16, Respondent's Position
Paper). All the requirements of Act No. 3135, as amended, re extrajudicial sale of
mortgage were ostensibly complied with by respondent. Hence, finally, title was
transferred to him, and on June 20, 1979, respondent sold the involved property to
Trinidad Ylanan for P12,000.00.
When informed of the above by one Salud Australlado on the first week of March
1979 (see Sworn Statement of complainant Narciso Melendres, p. 6, Folder No. 2
of case), and not having known the legal implications of the provisions of the
second Real Estate Mortgage which they had executed, complainants could not
believe that title to their lot had already been transferred to respondent and that
respondent had already sold the same to a third person.
Upon learning of the sale in March, 1979, complainants tried to raise the amount
of P10,000.00 and went to respondent's house on May 30, 1979 to pay their
obligation, hoping that they could redeem their property, although three years had
already lapsed from the date of the mortgage.
Respondent did not accept the proffered P10,000.00, but instead gave
complainants a sheet of paper (Annex B, Complainants' Position Paper), which
indicated that the total indebtedness had soared to P20,400.00. The computation
was made in respondent's own handwriting. Complainants went home with
shattered hopes and with grief in their hearts. Hence, the instant competent for
disbarment against respondent filed on October 5, 1979.
Respondent DENIES all the allegations of complainants. He maintains that what
appears on the two documents allegedly executed by complainants, i.e., that they
obtained a loan of P5,000.00 on August 5, 1975 and another P10,000.00 on May
7,1976, is allegedly the truth, and claims that he in truth delivered the alleged
amount of P5,000.00 to complainants and not P4,000.00. With respect to the
second loan, respondent claims that he delivered to complainants P8,000.00, plus
the P2,000.00 loan previously extended [to] complainants [by] one Regino
Villanueva, which loan had been indorsed to respondent for collection, thus
making a total of P10,000.00, as appearing on said document. Respondent denies
that he exacted usurious interest of 10% a month or P500.00 from complainants.
He asserts that the fact that complainants were able to secure a loan from the
Insular Bank of Asia and America (IBAA) only proves the truth of his allegation
that the title of the property, at the time complainants obtained a loan from IBAA
on April 1976, was clear of any encumbrance, since complainants had already
paid the original loan of P5,000.00 obtained from respondent; that complainants
knew fully well all the conditions of said mortgage; and that his acquisition of the
property in question was in accordance with their contract and the law on the
matter. Thus, he denies that he has violated any right of the complainants.
After weighing the evidence of both complainants and respondent, we find against
respondent.
While complainants are correct in their claim that they actually obtained an actual
cash of P4,000.00, they are only partly correct in the claim that out of the
P10,000.00 appearing in the second Real Estate Mortgage, P6,000.00 was applied
to interest considering that not all the P6,000.00 but only P4,000.00 was applied
to interest, computed as follows: the first loan of P5,000.00 was supposedly due
on August 31, 1975. Complainants paid 10% monthly interest or P500.00 on
September 30, 1975, October 31, 1975 and November 30, 1975. Consequently,
beginning December 31, 1975 up to May 31, 1976 (the date of the execution of
the second Real Estate Mortgage) a total of six (6) months lapsed. Six (6) months
at P500.00 equals P 3,000.00, which amount plus the P2,000.00 complainants'
loan to one Engr. Villanueva (indorsed to respondent for collection) totals
P5,000.00. Adding this amount to the previous P5,000.00 indicated loan secured
by the first mortgage results in P10,000.00, the amount appearing in the second
Real Estate Mortgage. Section 7, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 7. Evidence of written agreements. When the terms of an agreement have
been reduced to writing, it is to be considered as complaining all such terms, and,
therefore, there can be, as between the parties and their successors in interest, no
evidence of the terms of the agreement other than the contents of the writing,
except in the following cases:
(a) Where a mistake or imperfection of the writing, or its failure to express the
true intent and agreement of the parties, or the validity of the agreement is put in
issue by the pleadings;
(b) Where there is an intrinsic ambiguity in the writing. The term "agreement"
includes wills.
There is no dispute that the two documents denominated Real Estate Mortgages
covering the supposed original loan of P5,000.00 and the inflated P10,000.00,
respectively, were voluntarily signed by the complainants. The general rule is that
when the parties have reduced their agreement to writing, it is presumed that they
have made the writing the only repository and memorial of the truth, and
whatever is not found in the writing must be understood to have been waived and
abandoned.
However, the rule is not absolute as it admits of some exceptions, as aforequoted.
One of the exceptions, that is, failure to express the true intent and agreement of
the parties, applies in this case.From the facts obtaining in the case, it is clear that
the complainants were induced to sign the Real Estate Mortgage documents by
the false and fraudulent representations of respondent that each of the successive
documents was a are formality.
While it may be true that complainants are not at all illiterate, respondent, being a
lawyer, should have at least explained to complainants the legal implications of
the provisions of the real estate mortgage, particularly the provision appointing
him as the complainants' attorney-in-fact in the event of default in payments on
the part of complainants. While it may be conceded that it is presumed that in
practice the notary public apprises complainants of the legal implications of the
contract, it is of common knowledge that most notaries public do not go through
the desired practice. Respondent at least could have informed the complainants by
sending a demand letter to them to pay their obligation as otherwise he would
proceed to sell the lot at public auction as per their contract. This respondent
failed to do, despite the fact that he knew fully wen that complainants were trying
their best to raise money to be able to pay their obligation to him, as shown by the
loan obtained by complainants from the IBAA on April 8, 1976. In this
connection, it may be stated that complainants, per advice of respondent himself,
returned the proceeds of the IBAA loan to the bank immediately on April 30,
1976, considering that the net proceeds of the loan from said bank was only
P4,300.00 and not enough to pay the indicated loan from respondent of
P5,000.00, which per computation of respondent would already have earned
interest of P2,500.00 for five (5) months (December 1975 to April, 1976).
Respondent claims that complainants had paid him the original loan of P5,000.00,
and that this was the reason why complainants were able to mortgage the lot to
the bank free from any encumbrance. This claim is incorrect. The reason why the
title (T-2684) was free from any encumbrance was simply because of the fact that
the first Real Estate Mortgage for the indicated loan of P5,000.00 (the actual
amount was only P 4,000.00) had not been annotated at the back of the title (see
Annex B, p. 14, rec.).
Respondent also denies that complainants offered to him the amount of Pl0,000.
00 as payment of the loan, alleging that if the offer were true, he could have
readily accepted the same since he sold the lot for almost the same amount, for
only P12,000.00, a difference of a few thousand pesos. Respondent's denial is
spacious.
Indeed, complainants made the offer, but respondent refused the same for the
simple reason that the offer was made on May 30,1979, three (3) years after the
execution of the mortgage on May 31, 1976. With its lapse of time, respondent
demanded obviously the payment of the accumulated substantial interest for three
years, as shown by his own computation in as own handwriting on a sheet of
paper (Annex C, Complainants' Position Paper, Folder No. 2).lwph1.t
In view of all the foregoing, the observation made by the Hearing Officer is worth
quoting:
In the humble opinion of the undersigned the pivotal question with respect to this
particular charge is whose version is to be believed. Is it the version of the
complainants or the version of the respondent.
In resolving this issue the possible motive on the part of the complainants in filing
the present complaint against the respondent must be carefully examined and
considered. At the beginning there was a harmonious relationship between the
complainants and the respondent so much so that respondent was even engaged as
counsel of the complainants and it is but human nature that when respondent
extended a loan to the complainants the latter would be grateful to the former.
However, in the case at bar, complainants filed a complaint against the respondent
in spite of the great disparity between the status of the complainants and the
respondent. Admittedly, respondent is in a better position financially, socially and
intellectually. To the mind of the undersigned, complainants were only compelled
to file the above entitled complaint against the respondent because they felt that
they are so aggrieved of what the respondent has done to them. It is for this reason
therefore that the undersigned is inclined to believe the version of the
complainants rather than of the respondent. In addition thereto, the respondent as
a lawyer could really see to it that the transaction between the complainants and
himself on papers appear legal and in order. Besides, there is ample evidence in
the records of its case that respondent is actually engaged in lending money at
least in a limited way and that the interest at the rate of ten per cent a month is but
common among money lenders during the time of the transactions in question'
Going now into the second charge, complainants alleged that respondent, who
was their counsel (private prosecutor) in Criminal Case No. 734, for estafa,
against accused Reynaldo Pineda, compromised the case with the accused without
their consent and received the amount of P500.00 as advance payment for the
amicable settlement, without however, giving to the complainants the Id amount
nor informing them of said settlement and payment.
Again, respondent denies the allegation and claims that the amicable settlement
was with the consent of complainant wife Erlinda Dalman Melendre[z].
We are inclined to believe the version of the complainants.
It is admitted that complainants were not interested in putting the accused
Reynaldo Pineda to jail but rather in merely recovering their money of P2,000.00.
At this stage, relationship between complainants and respondent was not yet
strained, and respondent, as counsel of the complainants in this case, knew that
complainants were merely interested in said recovery. Knowing this, respondent
on his own volition talked to accused and tried to settle the case amicably for
P2,000.00. He accepted the amount of P500.00 as advance payment, being then
the only amount carried by the accused Pineda. A receipt was signed by both
respondent and accused Pineda (Annex M, p. 34, record). However, respondent
did not inform complainants about this advance payment, perhaps because he was
still waiting for the completion of the payment of P2,000.00 before turning over
the whole amount to complainants.
At any rate, complainants saw accused Pineda give the abovementioned P500.00
to respondent, but they were ashamed then to ask directly of respondent what the
money was all about.
On June 27, 1979, barely a month after May 30, 1979, when the complainants had
already lost their trust and respect and/or confidence in respondent upon knowing
what happened to their lot and, more so, upon respondent's refusal to accept the
Pl0,000.00 offered by complainants to redeem the same, Narciso Melendre[z] saw
the accused Pineda on his way home and confronted him on the P500.00 that had
been given to respondent. Accused then showed complainant Melendres the
receipt (Annex M, Id.) showing that the P500.00 was an advance payment for the
supposed settlement/dismissal of the case filed by complainants against him.
Sensing or feeling that respondent was fooling them, complainants then filed a
motion before the court which was trying the criminal case and relieved
respondent as their counsel.
The Investigating Fiscal, who heard the case and saw the demeanor of the
witnesses in testifying, had this to say:
With respect to the second charge, the fact that respondent received P500.00 from
Reynaldo Pineda is duly established. Both the complainants and the respondent
agreed that the said amount was given to the respondent in connection with a
criminal case wherein the complainants were the private offended parties: that
Reynaldo Pineda is the accused and that the respondent is the private prosecutor
of the said case. The pivotal issue in this particular charge is whether the
respondent received the amount of P500.00 from Reynaldo Pineda as an advance
payment of an amicable settlement entered into by the complainants and the
accused or the respondent received said amount from the accused without the
knowledge and consent of the complainants. If it is true as alleged by the
respondent that he only received it for and in behalf of the complainants as
advance payment of an amicable settlement why is it that the same was
questioned by the complainants? Why is it that it was not the complainants who
signed the receipt for the said amount? How come that as soon as complainants
knew that the said amount was given to the respondent, the former filed a motion
in court to relieve respondent as their counsel on the ground that they have lost
faith and confidence on him? If it is really true that complainants have knowledge
and have consented to this amicable settlement they should be grateful to the
efforts of their private prosecutor yet the fact is that they resented the same and
went to the extent of disqualifying the respondent as their private prosecutor.
Reynaldo Pineda himself executed an affidavit belying the claim of the
respondent.'
Clearly, the complained acts as described and levelled against respondent
Decena are contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals for which he
may be suspended. The moral turpitude for which an attorney may be disbarred
may consist of misconduct in either his professional or non- professional attitude
(Royong v. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859). The complained acts of respondent imply
something immoral in themselves, regardless of the fact whether they are
punishable by law. The doing of the act itself, and not its prohibition by statute,
fixes the moral turpitude (Bartos vs. U.S. Dist. Court for District of Nebraska
C.C.C. Neb] 19 F [2d] 722).
A parting comment.
All the above is not to say that complainants themselves are faultless.
Complainants should likewise be blamed for trusting the respondent too much.
They did not bother to keep a copy of the documents they executed and
considering that they admitted they did not understand the contents of the
documents, they did not bother to have them explained by another lawyer or by
any knowledgeable person in their locality. Likewise, for a period of three years,
they did not bother to ask for respondent the status of their lot and/or their
obligation to him. Their complacency or apathy amounting almost to negligence
contributed to the expedient loss of their property thru the legal manuevers
employed by respondent. Hence, respondent's liability merits mitigation.
(Emphasis supplied)
and made the following recommendation:
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that Atty. Reynerio I. Decena be
suspended from the practice of law for a period of five (5) years.
3

The Office of the Solicitor General, through Fiscals Almonte and Jamero, held several hearings
during the investigation of the present administrative case: City Fiscal Jorge T. Almonte was
able to hold six (6) actual hearings out of twenty-five (25) resettings
4
While only five (5) actual
hearings, out of forty (40) resettings
5
were held under Provincial Fiscal Pedro S. Jamero. In
those hearings, the complainants presented a number of witnesses who, after their direct
testimony, were cross-examined by the counsel for respondent; complainant Narciso Melendrez
also testified and was accordingly cross-examined. Considering the long delay incurred in the
investigation of the administrative case and having been pressed by the Solicitor General
immediately to complete the investigation, Fiscal Jamero posed a change of procedure, from trial
type proceedings to requiring the parties to submit their respective position papers. The
complainants immediately filed their position paper which consisted of their separate sworn
statements, (that of Narciso Melendrez was in a question and answer form), their documentary
exhibits and an affidavit of one Jeorge G. Santos. Respondent also filed his counter-affidavit and
affidavits of his witnesses, with several annexes in support thereof In the healing of 28 October
1987, which had been set for the cross examination of the complainants and their witnesses by
respondent, the complainants refused to submit themselves to cross-examination on the ground
that the order of the hearing officer dated 17 December 1986 declaring respondent's right of
cross examination as having been waived, had become final and executory. Respondent
questions now the evidentiary value of the complainants' position paper, not having passed
through any cross-examination and argues that the non-submission of the complainants and their
witnesses to cross-examination constitutes a denial of his right to due process.
We do not think respondent's right to confront the complainants and their witnesses against him
has been violated, Respondent in fact cross-examined complainant Narciso Melendrez and some
of the witnesses which complainants had presented earlier. As pointed out by the Solicitor
General, the record of the proceedings shows that respondent had all the opportunity to cross-
examine the other witnesses of the complainants (those whose affidavits were attached to
complainants' position paper) had he wanted to, but had forfeited such opportunity by asking for
numerous continuances which indicated a clear attempt on his part to delay the investigation
proceedings. Respondent had in fact requested a total of twenty three (23) resettings during the
investigation proceedings: he had eight (8) under Fiscal Almonte and fifteen (15) under Fiscal
Jamero. There were also instances where respondent asked for postponement and at the same
time reset the hearing to a specific date of his choice on which neither he nor as counsel would
appear. That attitude of respondent eventually led the hearing officer to declare his (respondent's)
right to cross-examine the complainants and their witnesses as having been waived in his order
of 17 December 1986. Respondent can not now claim that he had been deprived below of the
opportunity to confront the complainants and their witnesses.
After carefully going through the record of the proceedings as well as the evidence presented by
both parties, we agree with the findings and conclusions of the Solicitor General.
The following acts of respondent:
1. making it appear on the 5 August 1975 real estate mortgage that the amount
loaned to complainants was P5,000.00 instead of P4,000.00;
2. exacting grossly unreasonable and usurious interest;
3. making it appear in the second real estate mortgage of 7 May 1976 that the loan
extended to complainants had escalated to P10,000.00;
4. failing to inform complainants of the import of the real mortgage documents
and inducing them to sign those documents with assurances that they were merely
for purposes of "formality";
5. failing to demand or refraining from demanding payment from complainants
before effecting extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgaged property; and
6. failing to inform or refraining from informing complainants that the real estate
mortgage had already been foreclosed and that complainants had a right to redeem
the foreclosed property within a certain period of time.
constitute deception and dishonesty and conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar. We agree
with the Solicitor General that the acts of respondent "imply something immoral in themselves
regardless of whether they are punishable by law" and that these acts constitute moral turpitude,
being "contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or good morals." The standard required from
members of the Bar is not, of course, satisfied by conduct which merely avoids collision with our
criminal law. Even so, respondent's conduct, in fact, may be penalizable under at least one penal
statute the anti-usury law.
The second charge against respondent relates to acts done in his professional capacity, that is,
done at a time when he was counsel for the complainants in a criminal case for estafa against
accused Reynaldo Pineda. There are two (2) aspects to this charge: the first is that respondent
Decena effected a compromise agreement concerning the civil liability of accused Reynaldo
Pineda without the consent and approval of the complainants; the second is that, having received
the amount of P500.00 as an advance payment on this "settlement," he failed to inform
complainants of that advance payment and moreover, did not turn over the P500.00 to the
complainants. The facts show that respondent "settled" the estafa case amicably for P2,000.00
without the knowledge and consent of complainants. Respondent informed complainants of the
amicable "settlement" and of the P500.00 advance payment only after petitioner Narciso
Melendrez had confronted him about these matters. And respondent never did turn over to
complainants the P500.00. Respondent is presumed to be aware of the rule that lawyers cannot
"without special authority, compromise their clients' litigation or receive anything in discharge of
a client's claim, but the full amount in cash.
6
Respondent's failure to turn over to complainants
the amount given by accused Pineda as partial "settlement" of the estafa case underscores his
lack of honesty and candor in dealing with his clients.
Generally, a lawyer should not be suspended or disbarred for misconduct committed in his
personal or non-professional capacity. Where however, misconduct outside his professional
dealings becomes so patent and so gross as to demonstrate moral unfitness to remain in the legal
profession, the Court must suspend or strike out the lawyer's name from the Rollo of
Attorneys.
7
The nature of the office of an attorney at law requires that he shall be a person of
good moral character. This qualification is not only a condition precedent to admission to the
practice of law; its continued possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of law, in
the exercise of privileges of members of the Bar. Gross misconduct on the part of a lawyer,
although not related to the discharge of professional duties as a member of the Bar, which puts
his moral character in serious doubt, renders him unfit to continue in the practice of law.
8

In the instant case, the exploitative deception exercised by respondent attorney upon the
complainants in his private transactions with them, and the exacting of unconscionable rates of
interest, considered together with the acts of professional misconduct committed by respondent
attorney, compel this Court to the conviction that he has lost that good moral character which is
indispensable for continued membership in the Bar.
WHEREFORE, respondent Reynerio I. Decena is hereby DISBARRED and his name shall be
stricken from the Rollo of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Resolution be FURNISHED each to the
Bar Confidant and spread on the personal records of respondent attorney, and to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines.
Fernan, (C.J.), Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., in Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco,
Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Gr;no-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

A.C. No. 2837 October 7, 1994
ESTEBAN M. LIBIT, complainant,
vs.
ATTYS. EDELSON G. OLIVA and FLORANDO A. UMALI, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N

PER CURIAM:
In civil Case No. 84-24144 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled "Pedro Cutingting,
plaintiff versus Alfredo Tan, defendant", the Honorable Presiding Judge Domingo Panis issued
the following order:
The Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is hereby ordered to
conduct an investigation with the end in view of determining the author of the
Sheriff's Return which appears to have been falsified and to institute such
criminal action as the evidence will warrant. (p. 1, Final Report.)
After conducting the necessary investigation, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI),
through herein complainant, charged respondents as follows:
That sometime in May 1984 in the City of Manila, at the Regional Trial Court,
Branch XLI, Manila, Philippines, the above-named Respondents, as Counsels for
PEDRO CUTINGTING in Civil Case No. 84-24144, entitled PEDRO
CUTINGTING, Plaintiff vs. ALFREDO TAN, Defendant, did then and there,
knowingly, willfully introduced/presented in evidence before the aforesaid
Regional Trial Court, a falsified Sheriff's Return of Summons during the hearing
of the aforesaid Civil Case thereby impending and/or obstructing the speedy
administration and/or dispensation of Justice. (p. 2, Final Report, ff. p. 69,
Record.)
Respondents in their respective answers denied having any hand in the falsification of the said
sheriff's return.
Pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court and the resolution of the Court En Banc of April
12, 1988, the case was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
In view, however, of the report of the National Bureau of Investigation to the effect that the
signature above the typewritten name Florando Umali on the last page of the complaint in said
civil case is not his signature, complainant, through counsel, agreed to the dismissal of the case
with respect to Atty. Umali.
With respect to Atty. Edelson G. Oliva, the IBP submitted the following report and
recommendation:
There is ample evidence extant in the records to prove that
Atty. Oliva has something to do with the falsification of the Sheriff's Return on
the Summons in said Civil Case No. 84-24144.
The oral and documentary evidence of the complainant strongly tend to show the
following: (1) The Sheriff's Return of the Summon in the said civil case was
falsified as it was not signed by Deputy Sheriff Rodolfo Torella (Exh. "J"
Sworn Statement of Rodolfo Torella dated February 1, 1985, and Exh. "S", which
is the falsified Sheriff's Return); (2) The summons was received from the clerk of
the Court of the Manila
RTC-Branch LXI by Ronaldo Romero, a messenger in the law office of Attys.
Umali and Oliva and said messenger brought the summons to the law office of the
respondents (Exh. "H" Sinumpaang Salaysay ni Ronaldo Romero, and Exh.
"G", Exh. "I" Sworn Statement dated February 28, 1985 of Mariano
Villanueva, Chief Staff Asst. 2, RTC, Manila; (3) On the basis of the falsified
Sheriff's Return on the Summons, Atty. Oliva, counsel for the defendant [should
be plaintiff] in said civil case, filed a typewritten Motion to Declare Defendant in
Default (Exh.) "R" Motion to Declare Defendant In Default in said civil case
signed and filed by Atty. Oliva);
(4) On March 29, 1984, Atty. Oliva, in his capacity as Operations Manager of
Judge Pio R. Marcos Law Office, sent a final demand letter on Alfredo Tan, the
defendant in said Civil case, for payment of the sum of P70,174.00 (Exh. "T"
Demand Letter dated March 28, 1984 of Atty. Oliva addressed to Alfredo Tan);
(5) The demand letter of Atty. Oliva (Exh. "T"), the complaint in said civil case
(Exh. "Q", "Q-1", and "Q-2"), the falsified Sheriff's Return on the Summons (Exh.
"S"), the Motion To Declare Defendant In Default dated October 30, 1984 signed
and filed by
Atty. Oliva (Exh. "R" and "R-1") were typed on one and the same typewriter, as
shown in the Questioned Document Report No. 198-585 dated 19 June 1985
(Exh. "Q", "Q-1" and "Q-2"; Exh. "V", "V-1" and
"V-2").
After the careful review of the record of the case and the report and recommendation of the IBP,
the Court finds that respondent Atty. Edelson G. Oliva committed acts of misconduct which
warrant the exercise by the Court of its disciplinary powers. The facts, as supported by the
evidence, obtaining in this case indubitably reveal respondent's failure to live up to his duties as a
lawyer in consonance with the strictures of the lawyer's oath, the Code of Professional
Responsibility, and the Canons of Professional Ethics. A lawyer's responsibility to protect and
advance the interests of his client does not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives
and malicious intentions against the other party.
At this juncture, it is well to stress once again that the practice of law is not a right but a privilege
bestowed by the State on those who show that they possess, and continue to possess, the
qualifications required by law for the conferment of such privilege. One of these requirements is
the observance of honesty and candor. It can not be gainsaid that candidness, especially towards
the courts, is essential for the expeditious administration of justice. Courts are entitled to expect
only complete candor and honesty from the lawyers appearing and pleading before them. A
lawyer, on the other hand, has the fundamental duty to satisfy the expectation. It is essential that
lawyers bear in mind at all times that their first duty is not to their clients but rather to the courts,
that they are above all court officers sworn to assist the courts in rendering justice to all and
sundry, and only secondarily are they advocates of the exclusive interests of their clients. For this
reason, he is required to swear to do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court
(Chavez vs. Viola, 196 SCRA 10 [1991].
In this case, respondent Atty. Edelson Oliva has manifestly violated that part of his oath as a
lawyer that he shall not do any falsehood. He has likewise violated Rule 10.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility which provides:
A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court nor
shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.
Accordingly, the Court resolved to impose upon Atty. Edelson Oliva the supreme penalty of
DISBARMENT. His license to practice law in the Philippines is CANCELLED and the Bar
Confidant is ordered to strike out his name from the Roll of Attorneys.
The case is ordered dismissed as against Atty. Florando Umali.
SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 104215. May 8, 1996]
ERECTORS, INC., petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION,
HON. JULIO ANDRES, JR. and FLORENCIO BURGOS, respondents.
SYLLABUS
1. REMEDIAL LAW; JURISDICTION; JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT
MATTER, DETERMINED BY LAW IN FORCE AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF
ACTION; LABOR ARBITER HAS JURISDICTION OVER MONEY CLAIMS OF
OVERSEAS WORKER FILED ON MARCH 31, 1982. - The rule is that jurisdiction over
the subject matter is determined by the law in force at the time of the commencement of the
action. On March 31, 1982, at the time private respondent filed his complaint against the
petitioner, the prevailing laws were Presidential Decree No. 1691 and Presidential Decree
No. 1391 which vested the Regional Offices of the Ministry of Labor and the Labor Arbiters
with "original and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases involving employer-employee
relations including money claims arising out of any law or contracts involving Filipino
workers for overseas employment." At the time of the filing of the complaint, the Labor
Arbiter had clear jurisdiction over the same.
2. LABOR AND SOCIAL LEGISLATION; EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 797 CREATING
THE PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION (POEA);
WITHOUT RETROACTIVE APPLICATION; LABOR ARBITER NOT DIVESTED
OF JURISDICTION BY EFFECTIVITY OF E.O. 797. - E.O. No. 797 did not divest the
Labor Arbiter's authority to hear and decide the case filed by private respondent prior to its
effectivity. Laws should only be applied prospectively unless the legislative intent to give
them retroactive effect is expressly declared or is necessarily implied from the language
used. We fail to perceive in the language of E.O. No. 797 an intention to give it retroactive
effect. The law at bar, E.O. No. 797, is not a curative statute. It was not intended to remedy
any defect in the law. It created the POEA to assume the functions of the Overseas
Employment Development Board, the National Seamen Board and the overseas employment
functions of the Bureau of Employment Services. Accordingly, it gave the POEA "original
and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases, including money claims, involving employer-
employee relations arising out of or by virtue of any law or contract involving Filipino
workers for overseas employment, including seamen." The rule on prospectivity of laws
should therefore apply to E.O. No. 797. It should not affect jurisdiction over cases filed
prior to its effectivity.
3. STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION; STATUTES; CURATIVE STATUTE; DEFINED. -
A curative statute is enacted to cure defects in a prior law or to validate legal proceedings,
instruments or acts of public authorities which would otherwise be void for want of
conformity with certain existing legal requirements.
APPEARANCES OF COUNSEL
Bengzon, Zarraga, Narciso, Ardala, Pecson, Bengzon, and Jimenez for petitioner.
Fabian Gappi for private respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PUNO, J .:
Petitioner Erectors, Inc. challenges the jurisdiction of respondent Labor Arbiter Julio F.
Andres, Jr. to hear and decide the complaint
[1]
for underpayment of wages and non-payment of
overtime pay filed by private respondent Florencio Burgos, an overseas contract worker.
The facts are undisputed:
In September 1979, petitioner recruited private respondent to work as service contract driver
in Saudi Arabia for a period of twelve (12) months with a salary of US$165.00 and an allowance
of US$165.00 per month. They further agreed that private respondent shall be entitled to a bonus
of US$ 1,000.00 if after the 12-month period, he renews or extends his employment contract
without availing of his vacation or home leave. Their contract dated September 20, 1979, was
duly approved by the Ministry of Labor and Employment.
The aforesaid contract was not implemented. In December, 1979, petitioner notified private
respondent that the position of service driver was no longer available. On December 14, 1979,
they executed another contract which changed the position of private respondent into that of
helper/laborer with a salary of US$105.00 and an allowance of US$105.00 per month. The
second contract was not submitted to the Ministry of Labor and Employment for approval.
On December 18, 1979, private respondent left the country and worked at petitioner's
Buraidah Sports Complex project in Saudi Arabia, performing the job of a helper/laborer. He
received a monthly salary and allowance of US$210.00, in accordance with the second
contract. Private respondent renewed his contract of employment after one year. His salary and
allowance were increased to US$231.00.
Private respondent returned to the Philippines on August 24, 1981. He then invoked his first
employment contract. He demanded from the petitioner the difference between his salary and
allowance as indicated in the said contract, and the amount actually paid to him, plus the
contractual bonus which should have been awarded to him for not availing of his vacation or
home leave credits. Petitioner denied private respondent's claim.
On March 31, 1982, private respondent filed with the Labor Arbiter a complaint against the
petitioner for underpayment of wages and non-payment of overtime pay and contractual bonus.
On May 1, 1982, while the case was still in the conciliation stage, Executive Order (E.O.)
No. 797 creating the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) took
effect. Section 4(a) of E.O. No. 797 vested the POEA with "original and exclusive jurisdiction
over all cases, including money claims, involving employer-employee relations arising out of or
by virtue of any law or contract involving Filipino workers for overseas employment.
[2]

Despite E.O. No. 797, respondent Labor Arbiter proceeded to try the case on the merits. On
September 23, 1983, he rendered a Decision
[3]
in favor of private respondent, the dispositive
portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the respondent to pay the complainant as
follows:
1. The sum of US$2,496.00 in its peso equivalent on August 25, 1981 as difference between
his allowance as Service Driver as against his position as Helper/Laborer;
2. The sum of US$1,000.00 in its peso equivalent as of the same date, as his contractual
bonus.
The complaints for non-payment/underpayment of overtime pay and unpaid wages or
commission are DISMISSED for lack of merit.
[4]

Petitioner appealed to respondent National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). It
questioned the jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiter over the case in view of the enactment of E.O.
No. 797.
In a Resolution dated July 17, 1991,
[5]
respondent NLRC dismissed the petitioner's appeal
and upheld the Labor Arbiter's jurisdiction. It ruled:
"To begin with, the Labor Arbiter has the authority to decide this case. On May 29, 1978, the
Labor Arbiters were integrated into the Regional Offices under P.D. 1391. On May 1, 1980,
P.D. 1691 was promulgated giving the Regional Offices of the Ministry of Labor and
Employment the original and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases arising out of or by virtue of
any law or contract involving Filipino workers for overseas employment. There is no dispute
that the Labor Arbiter had the legal authority over the case on hand, which accrued and was filed
when the two above mentioned Presidential Decrees were in force.
[6]

Petitioner filed this special civil action for certiorari reiterating the argument that:
"The NLRC committed grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack of jurisdiction in affirming
the Labor Arbiter's void judgment in the case a quo."
[7]

It asserts that E.O. No. 797 divested the Labor Arbiter of his authority to try and resolve
cases arising from overseas employment contract. Invoking this Court's ruling in Briad Agro
Developinent Corp. vs. Dela Cerna,
[8]
petitioner argues that E.O. No. 797 applies retroactively to
affect pending cases, including the complaint filed by private respondent.
The petition is devoid of merit.
The rule is that jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the law in force at the
time of the commencement of the action.
[9]
On March 31, 1982, at the time private respondent
filed his complaint against the petitioner, the prevailing laws were Presidential Decree No.
1691
[10]
and Presidential Decree No. 1391
[11]
which vested the Regional Offices of the Ministry
of Labor and the Labor Arbiters with "original and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases involving
employer-employee relations including money claims arising out of any law or contracts
involving Filipino workers for overseas employment."
[12]
At the time of the filing of the
complaint, the Labor Arbiter had clear jurisdiction over the same.
E.O. No. 797 did not divest the Labor Arbiter's authority to hear and decide the case filed by
private respondent prior to its effectivity. Laws should only be applied prospectively unless the
legislative intent to give them retroactive effect is expressly declared or is necessarily implied
from the language used.
[13]
We fail to perceive in the language of E.O. No. 797 an intention to
give it retroactive effect.
The case of Briad Agro Development Corp. vs. Dela Cerna
[14]
cited by the petitioner is not
applicable to the case at bar. In Briad, the Court applied the exception rather than the general
rule. In this case, Briad Agro Development Corp. and L.M. Camus Engineering Corp.
challenged the jurisdiction of the Regional Director of the Department of Labor and Employment
over cases involving workers' money claims, since Article 217 of the Labor Code, the law in
force at the time of the filing of the complaint, vested in the Labor Arbiters exclusive jurisdiction
over such cases. The Court dismissed the petition in its Decision dated June 29, 1989.
[15]
It ruled
that the enactment of E.O. No. 111, amending Article 217 of the Labor Code, cured the Regional
Director's lack of jurisdiction by giving the Labor Arbiter and the Regional Director concurrent
jurisdiction over all cases involving money claims. However, on November 9,1989, the Court,
in a Resolution,
[16]
reconsidered and set aside its June 29 Decision and referred the case to the
Labor Arbiter for proper proceedings, in view of the promulgation of Republic Act (R.A.) 6715
which divested the Regional Directors of the power to hear money claims. It bears emphasis that
the Court accorded E.O. No. 111 and R.A. 6715 a retroactive application because as curative
statutes, they fall under the exceptions to the rule on prospectivity of laws.
E.O. No.111, amended Article 217 of the Labor Code to widen the workers' access to the
government for redress of grievances by giving the Regional Directors and Labor Arbiters
concurrent jurisdiction over cases involving money claims. This amendment, however, created a
situation where the jurisdiction of the Regional Directors and the Labor Arbiters overlapped. As
a remedy, R.A. 6715 further amended Article 217 by delineating their respective
jurisdictions. Under R.A. 6715, the Regional Director has exclusive original jurisdiction over
cases involving money claims provided: (1) the claim is presented by an employer or person
employed in domestic or household service, or househelper under the Code; (2) the claimant, no
longer being employed, does not seek reinstatement; and (3) the aggregate money claim of the
employee or househelper does not exceed P5,000.00. All other cases are within the exclusive
and original jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiter. E.O. No. 111 and R.A. 6715 are therefore curative
statutes. A curative statute is enacted to cure defects in a prior law or to validate legal
proceedings, instruments or acts of public authorities which would otherwise be void for want of
conformity with certain existing legal requirements.
The law at bar, E.O. No. 797, is not a curative statute. It was not intended to remedy any
defect in the law. It created the POEA to assume the functions of the Overseas Employment
Development Board, the National Seamen Board and the overseas employment functions of the
Bureau of Employment Services. Accordingly, it gave the POEA "original and exclusive
jurisdiction over all cases, including money claims, involving employer-employee relations
arising out of or by virtue of any law or contract involving Filipino workers for overseas
employment, including seamen."
[17]
The rule on prospectivity of laws should therefore apply to
E.O. No. 797. It should not affect jurisdiction over cases filed prior to its effectivity.
Our ruling in Philippine-Singapore Ports Corp. vs. NLRC
[18]
is more apt to the case at
bar. In this case, PSPC hired Jardin to work in Saudi Arabia. Jardin filed a complaint against
PSPC for illegal dismissal and recovery of backwages on January 31, 1979 with the Labor
Arbiter. PSPC questioned the jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiter because at that time, the power to
hear and decide cases involving overseas workers was vested in the Bureau of Employment
Services. We held:
"When Jardin filed the complaint for illegal dismissal on January 31, 1979, Art. 217 (5) of the
Labor Code provided that Labor Arbiters and the NLRC shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear
and decide all cases arising from employer-employee relations unless expressly excluded by
this Code. At that time Art. 15 of the same Code had been amended by P.D. No. 1412 which
took effect on June 9, 1978. The pertinent provision of the said presidential decree states:
Article 15. Bureau of Employment Services. -
(a) x x x x x x x x x
(b) The Bureau shall have the original and exclusive jurisdiction over all matters or cases
involving employer-employee relations including money claims, arising out of or by virtue of
any law or contracts involving Filipino workers for overseas employment, except seamen. The
decisions of the Bureau shall be final and executory subject to appeal to the Secretary of Labor
whose decision shall be final and inappealable.
Considering that private respondent Jardin's claims undeniably arose out of an employer-
employee relationship with petitioner PSPC and that private respondent worked overseas or in
Saudi Arabia, the Bureau of Employment Services and not the Labor Arbiter had jurisdiction
over the case. x x x
Art. 15 was further amended by P.D. No. 1691 which took effect on May 1, 1990. Such
amendment qualifies the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Employment Services as follows:
(b) The regional offices of the Ministry of Labor shall have the original and exclusive
jurisdiction over all matters or cases involving employer-employee relations including money
claims, arising out of or by virtue of any law or contracts involving Filipino workers for overseas
employment except seamen: Provided that the Bureau of Employment Services may, in the case
of the National Capital Region, exercise such power, whenever the Minister of Labor deems it
appropriate. The decisions of the regional offices or the Bureau of Employment Services if so
authorized by the Minister of Labor as provided in this Article, shall be appealable to the
National Labor Relations Commission upon the same grounds provided in Article 223
hereof. The decisions of the National Labor Relations Commission shall be final and
inappealable.
Hence, as further amended, Art. 15 provided for concurrent jurisdiction between the regional
offices of the then Ministry of Labor and Bureau of Employment Services in the National
Capital Region. It is noteworthy that P.D. No. 1691, while likewise amending Art. 217 of the
Labor Code, did not alter the provision that Labor Arbiters shall have jurisdiction over all claims
arising from employer-employee relations unless expressly excluded by this Code.
The functions of the Bureau of Employment Services were subsequently assumed by
the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on May 1, 1982 by virtue of
Executive Order No. 797 by granting the POEA original and exclusive jurisdiction over all
cases, including money claims, involving employer-employee relations arising out of or by
virtue of any law or contract involving Filipino workers for overseas employment,
including seamen. (Sec. 4 (a); Eastern Shipping Lines v. Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration [POEA], 200 SCRA 663 [1991]). This development showed the legislative
authority's continuing intent toexclude from the Labor Arbiter's jurisdiction claims arising from
overseas employment.
These amendments notwithstanding, when the complaint for illegal dismissal was filed
on January 31, 1979, under Art. 15, as amended by P.D. No. 1412, it was the Bureau of
Employment Services which had jurisdiction over the case and not the Labor Arbiters. It
is a settled rule that jurisdiction is determined by the statute in force at the time of the
commencement of the action(Municipality of Sogod v. Rosal, 201 SCRA 632, 637
[1991]). P.D. 1691 which gave the regional offices of the Ministry of Labor concurrent
jurisdiction with the Bureau of Employment Services, was promulgated more than a year after
the complaint was filed. (Italics supplied)
In sum, we hold that respondent NLRC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in
upholding the jurisdiction of respondent Labor Arbiter over the complaint filed by private
respondent against the petitioner.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Petition is DISMISSED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.


Judicial Ethics 1-7

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

A.M. No. MTJ-94-971 December 5, 1994
REGIONAL DIRECTOR CIRILO R. BALAGAPO, JR., DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, REGION VIII,
TACLOBAN CITY, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE DEMOSTHENES C. DUQUILLA, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT, BASEY, SAMAR, respondent.

PER CURIAM:
On the basis of the report and recommendation of the Legal Officer and the Chief of the Regulatory Division of
the Department of Agriculture, Region VIII, Tacloban City,
1
Regional Director Cirilo R. Balagapo, Jr., lodged a
complaint against respondent Judge Demosthenes C. Duquilla for deciding Crim. Case No. 8735
2
of his court
on the merits instead of merely conducting a preliminary investigation and transmitting his resolution and the
records of the case to the Provincial Prosecutor for the filing of the appropriate Information before the proper
court as mandated by Sec. 5, Rule 112, of the Amended Rules on Criminal Procedure. Specifically, respondent
Judge is charged with (a) assuming jurisdiction over a case for illegal fishing with use of explosive where the
penalty imposable is twenty (20) years to life imprisonment under Sec. 38 of P.D. 704, as amended, which was
filed with him only for the purpose of preliminary investigation; (b) amending motu proprio the designation of the
offense toillegal fishing only to make it fall within his jurisdiction; (c) taking cognizance of the case; (d)
arraigning the four (4) accused; (e) allowing them to plead guilty; (f) sentencing each of them only a fine of
P1,000.00; and, (g) upon payment, ordering their immediate release. Incidentally, respondent Judge is also
charged with having disregarded the rules on preliminary investigation by refusing to turn over the record of the
case after his investigation to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor.
The facts: On 8 July 1993, the Chief of Police of Basey, Samar, filed before respondent Judge a criminal
complaint against Fred Roa, Philip Bandoy, Aladin Roa and Aldric Roa for violation of Sec. 33, P.D. 704,
otherwise known as the Fisheries Decree of 1975, for preliminary investigation on the following antecedents:
On 7 July 1993, at about 4:25 o'clock in the afternoon, the "Bantay Dagat Task Force"
headed by Noel O. Dapon, an agricultural technologist of the Department of Agriculture,
together with PO3 Rolando O. Banasta, PO3 Dario A. Amante, the pumpboat operator
and one helper as members were on board a pumpboat on seaborne patrol between the
islands of Bgy. Salvacion, Panunubolon and Dio, Basey, Samar when they chanced upon
Fred Roa, Philip Bandoy, Aladin Roa and Aldric Roa catching fish with the use of
dynamite. The members of the task force caught up with the accused and arrested them.
They were then brought to the Basey Police Station and their pumpboat, fishing
paraphernalia and equipment were confiscated by the police and impounded at the
station. The arresting officers also confiscated two (2) boxes of dead fish (bolinao) found
floating around the pumpboat of the accused which were submitted for examination.
3

The complaint against the four (4) accused particularly alleges that
. . . on or about the 7 of July 1993 . . . . between Bgy. Salvacion Island, Panunubolon
Island and Dio Island of San Pedro Bay, Basey, Samar . . . . the above named accused .
. . . did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously conspire . . . mutually helping
one another, gather, take and catch fish with the use of explosive . . . . without permit or
license from competent authorities . . . .
4

To support the complaint, the following documents were submitted: Scientific Examination Report,
Apprehension Report, receipts of confiscated fish, fish samples and the sworn statements of Noel O. Dapon,
PO3 Rolando O. Banasta and PO3 Dario A. Amante.
Despite the categorial statement of Dapon that the accused "were conducting dynamite fishing in said place"
and the allegation of the police officers that "(they) saw sprouting water upward,"
5
respondent Judge motu
propiocaused the amendment of the complaint by deleting the allegation that the accused used explosive in the
commission of the crime,
6
thereby reducing the gravity of the offense and the corresponding penalty so that the
case would fall under his jurisdiction, and then arraigned the four (4) accused who all pleaded "Guilty" in the
presence of their counsel.
Thirteen (13) days from the filing of the criminal complaint, or on 22 July 1993, respondent Judge rendered a
two-page decision finding all the accused guilty of illegal fishing only, not illegal fishing with use of dynamite,
and imposing upon each of them only a fine of P1,000.00 supposedly in accordance with Sec. 38, par. (2),
subpar. (d), of P.D. 704.
7
After the accused paid their fines, respondent Judge immediately ordered their
release and, despite the annulment of his decision by the Regional Trial Court, all the accused now remain at
large.
Complainant submits that respondent Judge had no jurisdiction to try and decide Crim. Case No. 8735 as it
involved a violation of Sec. 38, par. (a), subpar. (1), of P.D. 704, now Sec. 38, subsec. a (1), of P.D. 1058, a
crime punishable with imprisonment ranging from twenty (20) years to life imprisonment,
8
because under Sec.
32 of B.P. 129, Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall
exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment of not exceeding four
years and two months, or a fine of not more than four thousand pesos or both such fine and imprisonment.
According to complainant, respondent Judge should have observed the duties of an investigating judge, i.e.,
conduct the preliminary investigation, and if he should find a prima facie case, transmit his resolution to the
Provincial Prosecutor together with the entire records for the filing of the appropriate Information. This he failed
to do. To aggravate matters, respondent Judge allowed the amendment of the original complaint without the
knowledge or consent of the complainant and then arraigned the accused on the basis thereof, again without
the knowledge or consent of the offended party or the fiscal, and finally decided the case.
In his comment, respondent Judge explained that he assumed jurisdiction over the subject case because the
joint statement executed by the police officers who arrested the accused failed to allege the use of explosive in
the commission of the crime but only "sprouting water upward." Hence, according to him, he treated the case
as one falling under Sec. 38, subpar. (d), of P.D. 704 which imposes the penalty of imprisonment ranging from
six (6) months to four (4) years or fine of five hundred pesos to five thousand pesos, therefore falling within the
jurisdiction of his court. Besides, respondent Judge observed, an Information had already been filed by the
Provincial Fiscal before the Regional Trial Court of Basey, docketed as Crim. Case No. 39-2005, on the basis
of his order dated 18 August 1993 finding a prima facie case against the four (4) accused for violating P.D.
704.
9
In the same order, respondent Judge also canceled his earlier decision dated 22 July 1993 and directed
the Municipal Treasurer of Basey to return the fines paid by the accused. Judge Duquilla further noted an
earlier case which involved the same offense of illegal fishing with the use of explosive committed by one
Casimiro Galangue.
10
Judge Felix J. Dacut, predecessor of respondent Judge, decided the case on 26
November 1965 and imposed a fine of P75.00 only, yet no administrative complaint was filed against Judge
Dacut.
11

In his memorandum dated 6 July 1994, Deputy Court Administrator Bernardo P. Abesamis found the charges
against respondent Judge sufficiently established by the records and recommended that he be severely
reprimanded for amending motu propio the designation of the crime and taking cognizance of the case, with a
stern warning against a repetition of the same.
12

We cannot sustain the reasoning of respondent Judge that he assumed jurisdiction over Crim Case No. 8735
simply because the joint sworn statement of the two police officers failed to allege the use of explosive in
catching or gathering fish. It is a postulate in criminal procedure that the allegations in the compliant on the
ultimate facts and the elements of the offense determine which court has jurisdiction over the case. In the case
before us, considering the offense charged and the concomitant penalty imposable, it is obvious that the
criminal complaint was filed with respondent Judge only for the purpose of preliminary investigation.
13
The case
therefore was beyond his jurisdiction to try on the merits.
A cursory reading of the complaint filed by the Chief of Police would readily show that it was sufficient in form
and substance to enable respondent Judge to know the nature of the offense charged. Couched in ordinary
and concise language, the complaint recounted the acts complained of as those constituting the offense of
illegal fishing with the use of explosive.
14
Even assuming that the two police officers failed to state the use of
explosive in their joint sworn statement, the supporting documents submitted together with the complaint,
particularly the sworn statement of Noel O. Dapon who was the leader of the arresting team, were clear on the
nature of the crime, i.e., illegal fishing with the use of explosive.
15

Indeed, it is gross ignorance of the law for respondent Judge to amend motu propio the complaint by canceling
the phrase "with the use of explosive, which they possessed and carried without permit or license from
competent authorities," and considering the accused as having committed a light offense, proceeded with their
arraignment and decided the case.
The power to amend a complaint at any time before the accused pleads, both in form and in substance, without
leave of court, is lodged in the prosecuting officer and not in the trial judge. In Bais v. Tugaoen,
16
we held
. . . . The contention of respondent judge that he had the right to amend the designation of the
crime in a preliminary investigation which is not the trial proper is untenable. The purpose of
preliminary investigation is primarily to determine whether there is a reasonable ground to
believe that an offense has been committed and the accused is probably guilty thereof, so that
a warrant of arrest may be issued and the accused held for trial. It is not within the purview of
the preliminary investigation to give the judge the right to amend motu propio the designation
of the crime. When the crime comes within his jurisdiction, he shall try the case, and only after
trial may he convict for a lesser offense. In a case coming within the original jurisdiction of the
Court of First Instance, he should elevate the case as it is, even if in his opinion the crime is
less than that charged.
When a Municipal Judge conducts preliminary investigation, he performs a non-judicial function, as an
exception to his usual duties. The assignment of such executive function to the Municipal Judge under Rule
112 of the Rules of Court is dictated by necessity and practical considerations. Consequently, the findings of an
investigating Judge are subject to review by the Provincial Fiscal whose findings in turn may also be reviewed
by the Secretary of Justice in appropriate cases.
17
Hence, an investigating judge, after conducting a preliminary
investigation, shall perform his ministerial duty which is to transmit within ten (10) days after the conclusion
thereof the resolution of the case together with the entire records to the Provincial Prosecutor,
18
regardless of
his belief or opinion that the crime committed, after conducting the preliminary investigation, falls within the
original jurisdiction of his court.
19
As held in Daplas v. Arquiza,
20
while an investigating Judge may be excused
for occasional mistakes or errors of judgment, particularly when incurred in fine and complex points of law, or
mitigated by the difficulty of keeping abreast with this Court's ever-increasing decisions, judges are expected to
show more than cursory acquaintance with the elementary rules governing procedure as well as settled
authoritative doctrines.
More than just a dereliction of his sworn duty to follow and comply with the procedural rules in conducting
preliminary investigations, respondent Judge has committed a falsehood in his vain attempt to defend himself
and cover up for his offense. When asked to explain the charges against him, respondent Judge stated that in
the joint sworn statement of PO3 Banasta and PO3 Amante of 8 July 1993, particularly pars. 2, 3, 4 and 5, the
use of dynamite was not alleged but only "illegally fishing and with sprouting water upward."
21
Quite obviously,
this is far from the truth, for in par. 7 of the same joint sworn statement, the investigating officer, PO2 Mario
Bajen, propounded on the two (2) affiants the following question: "What about the fish, (were) you able to
confiscate from them dynamited fish then?" and the answer was, "Yes sir, kept in the styrofoam, while the other
fishes were on the fishnet known as sibot." The actuations of respondent Judge in misrepresenting to this Court
that the complaining witnesses failed to allege in their sworn statement that the accused had used explosive in
their illegal fishing constitute gross dishonesty and serious misconduct. This Court condemns such conduct,
especially coming from a judge who should be an example of integrity, honesty and competence.
Respondent Judge would seem to insinuate in his Comment that the complainant was ill-motivated in bringing
this matter to this Court because he did not file an administrative complaint against Judge Felix J. Dacut who
likewise allegedly imposed only a fine of P75.00 on an accused after finding him guilty of illegal fishing with the
use of dynamite. Judge Duquilla's revelation, if indeed true, only confirms the seriousness of the situation
prevailing in that area blatant violations of the Fisheries Decree of 1975 by fishermen who when arrested
and charged are only fined and immediately released after paying the fine. This results in the culprits avoiding
prosecution for their criminal acts as what happened in the instant case where all the accused are now at
large,
22
thus making a mockery of our laws and the criminal justice system in our country.
WHEREFORE, for failure to perform a ministerial duty, gross ignorance of the law, serious misconduct and
dishonesty, JUDGE DEMOSTHENES C. DUQUILLA, Municipal Trial Court, Basey, Samar, is DISMISSED from
the service with the prejudice to reinstatement or appointment to any public office including government-owned
or controlled corporation, and with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and privileges, if any.
Consequently, respondent Judge is directed to cease and desist immediately from discharging the functions of
Municipal Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Basey, Samar.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan
and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., is on leave.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 116049 March 20, 1995
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioners,
vs.
HON. EUSTAQUIO Z. GACOTT, JR., Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch 47, Puerto Princesa City, ARNE
STROM and GRACE REYES, respondents.

BIDIN, J .:
This special civil action for certiorari seeks to annul the order dated March 18, 1994 of respondent judge, the
Hon. Eustaquio Z. Gacott, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court of Puerto Princesa City, Branch 47, granting the
Motion to Quash filed by the accused, now herein respondents Arne Strom and Grace A. Reyes in Criminal
Case No. 11529 of said court.
On February 2, 1994, a complaint (Criminal Case No. 11529) for violation of the Anti-Dummy Law (C.A. No.
108) was filed by Asst. City Prosecutor Perfecto E. Pe against respondents Strom and Reyes. The accused
filed a Motion to Quash/Dismiss the criminal case contending that since the power to prosecute is vested
exclusively in the Anti-Dummy Board under Republic Act No. 1130, the City Prosecutor of Puerto Princesa has
no power or authority to file the same. The prosecution filed an opposition pointing out that the Anti-Dummy
Board has already been abolished by Letter of Implementation No. 2, Series of 1972. Despite such opposition,
however, respondent judge granted the motion espousing the position that the Letter Of Implementation relied
upon by the City Fiscal is not the "law" contemplated in Article 7 of the New Civil Code which can repeal
another law such as R.A. 1130. Thus, respondent judge in the assailed order of March 18, 1994 held as
follows:
WHEREFORE in the light of all the foregoing facts and consideration, as the City Prosecutor
has no power or authority to file and prosecute this case for reasons amply discussed above,
the Court hereby orders this case quashed in the interest of justice, without costs (Rollo, p,
27).
The prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration but respondent judge denied the same in an order dated
April 12,1994, the pertinent portions of which are quoted hereunder:
. . . . It may be ignorance of the law to insist that the law, Republic Act 1130 was repealed or
amended by Letter of Instruction (sic) No. 2, Series of 1972 as what the City Prosecutor has
harped all along. A Letter of Instruction (sic) is not law by any standard and neither has it the
force and effect of law. A contrary contention would be violative of Article 7 of the New Civil
Code which provides that laws are repealed only by subsequent ones and of the Rules of
Statutory Construction.
Besides, penal statutes are strictly construed against the State and liberally in favor of the
accused. The rules in all criminal prosecutions is that all counts are resolved in favor of the
accused. In the case at bar, the court seriously doubts that the City Prosecutor has the power
or the authority to investigate violations of the Anti-Dummy Law and to file and to prosecute
cases of this kind before our courts, as that is lodged with the Anti-Dummy Board under R. A.
1130.
WHEREFORE, premises considered the Motion for Reconsideration mentioned above is,
hereby denied for sheer lack of merit, and the Order dated March 18, 1994 quashing this case
is maintained (Rollo, p.5).
Hence, the present petition.
After the filing of the comments by respondents, this Court gave due course to the petition, in a resolution dated
October 24, 1994.
The only issue to be resolved in this case is whether or not respondent judge in granting the Motion to Quash
gravely abused his discretion as to warrant the issuance of a writ of certiorari as prayed for by petitioners
herein.
In resolving this issue, it must be recalled that immediately after the proclamation of martial law, the late
President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1 to reorganize the entire Executive Branch of the
National Government. To carry out the intent of P.D. No. 1, various Letters of Implementation were issued from
time to time. It was in the course of this reorganization that Letter of Implementation No. 2, Series of 1972 was
issued for the purpose of reorganizing certain agencies in the Department of Justice. One such agency was the
Anti-Dummy Board which was abolished by the aforesaid LOI, to wit:
Anti-Dummy Board
1. The investigation function of the Anti-Dummy Board shall be absorbed by the National
Bureau of Investigation, and its prosecution function by the Prosecution Staff in the
Department of Justice and the various provincial and City Fiscals. Its corresponding
appropriation, records, equipment, property, and subordinate personnel are transferred to the
National Bureau of Investigation and the Prosecution Staff in the Department of Justice.
2. The services of the present members of the Anti-Dummy Board are hereby terminated.
3. The Anti-Dummy Board shall cease to exist as of the date hereof.
Done in the City of Manila, this 29th day of September in the year of our Lord, nineteen
hundred and seventy-two. (emphasis supplied)
Later, P.D. No. 1275 was issued which reorganized the entire prosecution system of the government with the
creation of the National Prosecution Service (NPS) under the Supervision and control of the Secretary of
Justice, tasked with the investigation and prosecution of all violations of penal laws, including violation of C.A.
No, 108, the Anti-Dummy Law.
In his Comment on the petition, respondent judge insists that the dismissal of the case is supported by the law
and existing jurisprudence . Inasmuch as the City Prosecutor relied mainly on LOI No. 2 which according to
respondent judge, is not even a law, the Anti-Dummy Board cannot be considered as having been effectively
abolished.
We reverse.
The error committed by respondent judge in dismissing the case is quite obvious in the light of P.D. No. 1, LOI
No. 2 and P.D. No. 1275 aforementioned. The intent to abolish the Anti-Dummy Board could not have been
expressed more clearly than in the aforequoted LOI. Even assuming that the City Fiscal of Puerto Princesa
failed to cite P.D. No. 1 in his opposition to the Motion to Quash, a mere perusal of the text of LOI No. 2 would
have immediately apprised the respondent judge of the fact that LOI No. 2 was issued in implementation of
P.D. No. 1. Paragraph 1 of LOI No. 2 reads:
Pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1 dated September 23, 1972, Reorganizing the Executive
Branch of the National Government, the following agencies of the Department of Justice are
herebyreorganized or activated in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Integrated
Reorganization Plan and the following instructions: . . . (emphasis supplied).
Obviously, respondent judge did not even bother to read the text of the cited LOI; otherwise, he would have
readily acknowledged the validity of the argument advanced by the prosecution. As correctly observed by the
Solicitor General, Presidential Decrees, such as P.D No. 1, issued by the former President Marcos under his
martial law powers have the same force and effect as the laws enacted by Congress. As held by the Supreme
Court in the case of Aquino vs. Comelec, (62 SCRA 275 [1975]), all proclamations, orders, decrees,
instructions and acts promulgated, issued, or done by the former President are part of the law of the land, and
shall remain valid, legal, binding, and effective, unless modified, revoked or superseded by subsequent
proclamations, orders, decrees, instructions, or other acts of the President. LOI No. 2 is one such legal order
issued by former President Marcos in the exercise of his martial law powers to implement P.D. No. 1. Inasmuch
as neither P.D. No. 1 nor LOI No. 2 has been expressly impliedly revised, revoked, or repealed, both continue
to have the force and effect of law. (Rollo, pp. 7-8).
Indeed, Section 3, Article XVII of the Constitution explicitly ordains:
Sec. 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of
instructions, and other executive issuances not inconsistent with this
Constitution shall remain operative until amended, repealed, or revoked.
But even more glaring than respondent judge's utter inexcusable neglect to check the citations of the
prosecution is the mistaken belief that the duty to inform the court on the applicable law to a particular case
devolves solely upon the Prosecution or whoever may be the advocate before the court. Respondent judge
should be reminded that courts are duty bound to take judicial notice of all the laws of the 1 and (Sec. 1, Rule
129 Rules of Court). Being the trier of facts, judges are presumed to be well-informed of the existing laws,
recent enactments and jurisprudence, in keeping with their sworn duty as members of the bar (and bench) to
keep abreast of legal developments. As provided in the Code of Professional Responsibility:
CANON 5 A lawyer shall keep abreast of legal developments, participate in continuing
legal education programs, support efforts to achieve high standards in law schools as well as
in the practical training of law students and assist in disseminating in formation regarding the
law and jurisprudence.
CANON 6 These canons shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of
their official tasks.
The Court is fully aware that not every error or mistake of a judge in the performance of his duties is subject to
censure. But where, as in the present case, the error could have been entirely avoided were it not for public
respondent's irresponsibility in the performance of his duties, it is but proper that respondent judge be
reprimanded and his order of dismissal set aside for grave ignorance of the law. For, respondent judge's error
is not a simple error in judgment but one amounting to gross ignorance of the law which could easily undermine
the public's perception of the court's competence.
The responsibility to keep abreast with the changes in the law espoused in Canon 5 above is applicable with
equal force to counsel far private respondents, Atty. Elvira T. Bermejo who first raised the issue at hand before
the trial court. By insisting upon the authority of an already abolished Anti-Dummy Board, counsel displayed
blatant irresponsibility, not to mention ignorance of the law, she should be reminded that "The law, (it is not to
be forgotten), is a progressive science. There is less than full compliance with the demands of professional
competence, if a member of a bar does not keep himself abreast of the trend of authoritative
pronouncements"(Bautista v. Rebueno, 81 SCRA 535 [1978], emphasis supplied).
Equally deplorable is the terse half-paged pleading entitled Comment filed in behalf of private respondents by
the same counsel Atty. Elvira T. Bermejo, before this Court, wherein she alleges:
1. That private respondents ARNE STROM AND GRACE REYES was (sic) properly
represented by the undersigned attorney;
2. That private respondents ARNE STROM AND GRACE REYES has (sic) nothing to do with
the decision of HON. EUSTAQUIO Z. GACOTT, JR.
WHEREFORE upon premises considered it is most respectfully prayed of this Court that
saidcertiorari (sic) be dismissed." (Rollo, p. 33)
It need not be emphasized that the order of dismissal of the criminal case against private respondents arose
out of the resolution of the Motion to Quash/Dismiss filed by private respondents themselves, through counsel
Bermejo, on the ground of lack of authority of the City Fiscal to prosecute. In other words, such dismissal was
not ordered by respondent judge motu proprio but rather, as prayed for by, and on motion of, private
respondents through said counsel. It is quite disturbing, therefore, for counsel to brazenly deny before this
Court that private respondents had "nothing to do" with the assailed resolution, the issuance of which was
based on their very own pleading.
Moreover, counsel did not even bother to defend the position of private respondents before this Court by
restating in the Comment, their arguments before the trial court, being content instead with the short allegations
aforequoted. These acts are indicative of counsel's incompetence and lack of respect which this Court cannot
countenance.
Undoubtedly, counsel for private respondents failed to observe the responsibility imposed upon members of the
bar to keep abreast with the developments of the law under Canon 5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
as well as to exercise candor, fairness and good faith before the court as prescribed by Canon 10 of the same
Code, for which omissions, she should likewise be reprimanded.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the order of respondent judge dated March 18, 1999 dismissing Criminal
Case No. 11529 is hereby ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE and the aforesaid criminal case is REINSTATED.
Respondent judge is hereby REPRIMANDED AND FINED in the amount of P10,000.00 for gross ignorance of
the law with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or a similar offense shall merit serious consequences.
Atty. Elvira T. Bermejo is likewise REPRIMANDED AND FINED P10,000.00 for ignorance of the law and for her
failure to observe candor, fairness and good faith before this Court, with a stern warning that a repetition of the
same or a similar offense will be dealt with more severely by this Court. Let a copy of this decision be spread
on the personal records of Judge Eustaquio Z. Gacott, Jr. and Atty. Elvira T. Bermejo.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. Nos. R-278-RTJ & R-309-RTJ May 30, 1986
ATTY. ENRICO M. CABRERA, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE JAMES B. PAJARES, Regional Trial Court, Naga City, respondent.
Emerito M. Salva for respondent in A.M. R-278-RTJ.

PER CURIAM:
Respondent Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch XIX in Naga City, stands charged in these two cases
which were jointly investigated by Intermediate Appellate Court Justice Vicente Mendoza, as per the Court's
resolution of April 25, 1985. In the first numbered case, he is charged with indirect bribery, arising from the
allegation that he received, on January 22, 1985, the sum of Pl,000.00 from a party-litigant in a case then
pending before his court. In the second numbered case, he is charged with acts unbecoming of a judge, in that
he allegedly tried to solicit testimonials from practicing attorneys in his court, attesting to his integrity and
competence.
Justice Mendoza, after conducting the investigation and hearing the parties and their witnesses, submitted the
following report and findings dated May 2, 1986:
The Facts
On January 16, 1985, the complainant Enrico Cabrera, gave a sworn statement to the National Bureau of Investigation
in Naga City, denouncing the respondent Judge James B. Pajares for having allegedly asked money from him in
connection with his case. Cabrera said that in September, 1984 Judge Pajares intimated to him that he needed money.
Cabrera said he gave P1,000.00 to the respondent judge because the latter had been unduly strict, preventing him
from making statements during the trial of his case.
It appears that the complainant is the defendant in Civil Case No. R-751 which the respondent
judge was trying. The case was filed by the complainant's father, Juan Cabrera, and by his
half brothers and sisters, for the annulment of the sale made to the complainant of about 28
hectares of land in San Juan, Canaman, Camarines Sur. (See Exhs. 6 and 7-B) Cabrera said
he had been advised by his counsel, Atty. Roberto Verdadero, to accommodate any request
for money from the respondent so that he would not be unduly hard on the complainant. In
September, 1984, according to the complainant, Judge Pajares intimated to him that he
needed money. Following his counsel's advice, Cabrera said he expressed willingness to help
the judge financially and, the following day after their meeting, gave him P1,000.00. However,
according to Cabrera, after two months (i.e., before Christmas of 1984), Judge Pajares again
told him that he needed money. Cabrera said the judge saw him in front of the Han of Justice
in Naga City and called him. It was then, according to him, that he decided to denounce the
judge to the authorities. Cabrera asked the assistance of the NBI in entrapping Judge Pajares.
The sworn statement of the complainant, which contains the foregoing, is marked as Exhibit
N.
On January 17, 1985, Cabrera gave another statement (Exh. O) to the NBI in which he said
he was submitting ten P100.00 bills (or P1,000.00) for marking, for use in the entrapment.
The bills were marked with orange fluorescent crayon and dusted with orange fluorescent
powder by the NBI. At the same time, NBI Regional Director Epimaco Velasco asked the NBI
in Manila to send to Naga City a female agent, between 35 and 40 years old, to take part in
the entrapment. (Rollo II p. 23; transcript pp. 4749, Aug. 12,1985)
On January 22, at 8:15 in the morning, the complainant saw Judge Pajares in the latter's
chamber in the Hall of Justice. He was accompanied by NBI agent Angelica V. Somera whom
he introduced as his wife. After exchanging amenities with the judge, the complainant
informed the judge that he had decided not to settle the case and instead proceed with the
trial. For this reason, he told judge that he had filed early that morning a motion for the
reconsideration of the judge's order in Civil Case No. R-751, appointing a surveyor to
delineate a portion of the land in dispute which Cabrera would give to his half brothers and
sisters in settlement.
NBI Agent Somera testified that Judge Pajares later asked 'O ano na ngayon ang atin,'
whereupon, according to her, Cabrera got the envelope containing the marked money from
her and handed it to Judge Pajares. Cabrera then rushed out of the chamber on the pretext
that he forgot the keys in the car and gave the signal to five waiting NBI agents, Somera said
that, as soon as they got in, NBI Agent Manuel Tobias asked her where the money was. She
pointed to a diary on the table of Judge Pajares, between whose pages the envelope handed
to the judge was found inserted. The diary was seized by NBI Agent Artemio Sacaguing. (Exh.
A; Transcript pp. 74-75, 93- 94, 98, Aug. 12, 1985, Exhs. B and C).
The envelope contained the marked bills. Upon examination by an NBI Forensic Chemist,
Leonor C. Vallado, it was established that the envelope and the ten P 100.00 bills were the
same envelope and P100 bills previously marked by the NBI. (The ten P100.00 bills are
marked Exhibits D-1 to D-10, the envelope in which they were contained as Exhibit D, and the
diary, in which the envelope was found inserted, is marked Exhibit J, while the pages between
which the envelope was found are marked as Exhibits J-1 and J-2.) Judge Pajares was
likewise examined and found positive for orange fluorescent powder on the thumb and index
fingers of the left hand. The diary was similarly found positive. (Exhs. K, L, and M Transcript
pp. 48-49, 118, Aug. 12, 1985)
The Issue
The issue in this case is whether Judge Pajares accepted the envelope containing Pl,000.00.
There is no question that the envelope was handed to him by Cabrera and that he took it.
However, Judge Pajares claims that he took the envelope because he thought the money was
intended for the surveyor I who had been appointed to prepare a survey plan of the land in
dispute. Judge Pajares says that when he realized it was for the surveyor he threw the
envelope back to Cabrera telling him, 'Bakit mo sa akin 'yan ibibigay? Ikaw ang magbigay
niyan kay Surveyor Palaypayon.' (Why will you give it to me? You be the one to give it to
Surveyor Palaypayon.') According to the judge, the envelope fen on the open pages of his
diary and that is where the NBI agents recovered it. Parenthetically, the surveyor's fee was
P2,000.00, and would have been defrayed equally by Cabrera and the plaintiffs in Civil Case
No. R-751, with each party giving a down payment of P500.00.
On the other hand, the complainant claims that Judge Pajares took the envelope containing
the money and placed it between the pages of the diary as shown in the photographs. Exhs.
C-2 and B-2, taken by NBI photographer Diosdado Belen shortly after the NBI agents got
inside the chamber.
Findings
There is reason to believe that the respondent judge accepted the money and that he knew it
was being given to him by reason of his office.
First. The evidence shows that after receiving the envelope with the money, the respondent
judge did not really try to return it to Cabrera, as he claims he did, but that instead he placed it
between the pages of his diary. This is the testimony of NBI Agent Angelica V. Somera. In her
affidavit, Somera stated:
5. That after receiving the envelope containing the marked money, Judge
PAJARES immediately placed or inserted the same between the pages of a
brown covered book known as 'BUSINESS DAILY 85' which was on top of
his table.
Somera's affidavit (Exh. A), executed on January 22, 1985, shortly after the entrapment of the
respondent, was presented as her testimony in chief. In addition, during the investigation of
this case, she testified and identified the photographs, marked Exhibits C, C-1, B, and B-1, as
those taken during the entrapment of the respondent judge. The photos show the diary with
the envelope containing the money placed between its pages. Somera Identified the hand
shown in the photograph, marked Exhibit B-1, as that of NBI Agent Artemio Sacaguing in the
attention of seizing the diary. (Transcript, pp. 92-98, Aug. 12, 1985)
For his part, Sacaguing confirmed that the hand in the photograph (Exh. B-1) was his and that
he was in the act of picking the diary from the table of Judge Pajares in the photo in question.
(Id., pp. 50-51). He testified that, as soon as he and his companions got inside the judge's
chamber, Manuel Tobias, the chief agent of the NBI sub-office in Legaspi, asked Somera
where the envelope was and, upon being told where it was, ordered him to seize the diary.
(Transcript, pp. 51-54, Aug. 12, 1985)
The respondent judge denies this. He said he took the envelope being handed to him
'instinctively' ' but realizing it contained money which was intended for the surveyor, he
immediately threw it back to Cabrera. According to Judge Pajares, the envelope fell on the
open pages of his diary * where it was found by the 'balding agent' (Manuel Tobias), who took
the diary with the envelope inside, and then put it under his arm. Later, Judge Pajares says,
the NBI agent placed the diary on his table and made it appear as though it had always been
there, with the envelope containing the money placed between its pages. (Transcript, pp. 175-
177, Oct. 22, 1985)
Melquiades Volante, the branch clerk of court of the respondent judge, signed an affidavit on
January 29, 1985, corroborating the respondent's claim that the respondent tried to return the
envelope containing money to the complainant Enrico Cabrera. However, the following day,
January 30, Volante executed another affidavit (Exh. V) repudiating the earlier one. He said
he was pressured into signing the first affidavit by the respondent and that the fact is that he
left the chamber of the respondent judge as soon as he had shown Cabrera and Somera in
and did not see the incident under investigation. Volante denied that he swore to the first
affidavit in the presence of Fiscal Salvador Cajot.
No weight may, therefore, be given to the first affidavit of Volante. To be sure, the
respondent's claim is also confirmed by the janitor Constancio A. Elquiero. This witness was
inside the chamber when the NBI staged its operation. (See Elquiero's affidavit, dated January
29, 1985, marked Exh. 10-A) However, the testimonies of the NBI agents (Somera, Tobias
and Sacaguing), as above summarized, deserve greater credence than Elquiero's testimony.
These witnesses are law enforcement agents who must be presumed to have acted in the
regular performance of their functions. In addition, there are circumstances which militate
against the claim of the respondent judge. First, the photographs (Exhs. B, B-1, C and C-1),
which show how the diary, with the envelope in it, was found by the NBI agents, were taken
within seconds of the arrival of the agents inside the judge's chamber. (Transcript, pp. 102-
103, Aug. 12, 1985). In fact the respondent complained that as the NBI agents barged into his
office, pictures were taken. (Transcript, pp. 72-73, Oct. 22, 1985). This circumstance rules out
the possibility that any of the NBI agents might have seized the diary and later placed the
envelope between its pages. Indeed, the photographs (Exhs. C, G and B) appear to be
snapshots of the events as they happened, rather than formal pictures.
Second, the plan to entrap the respondent appears to have been cleared with the Executive
Judge, Hon. Juan B. Llaguno, before whom the complainant swore to his statement (Exh. N)
of January 16, 1985. It is not likely that Judge Llaguno would approve the 'frame-up' of a
colleague. Nor is it likely that NBI Regional Director Epimaco A. Velasco would authorize a
'frame-up' considering that, according to Judge Pajares himself, Velasco is his 'close friend.'
(Transcript, p. 196, Oct. 22, 1985)
During the investigation, an attempt was made to show that it was not possible for Sacaguing
to have found the envelope between the pages of the diary, because the envelope (Exh. D)
was folded in four parts so that if inserted thus, it would leave an opening of about two inches
between the pages of the diary. (Transcript, p. 36, Aug. 12, 1985) The argument seems to be
that if the envelope was no longer folded when found inside the diary, it must be because,
when Judge Pajares flung it at Cabrera, it spread out. The further argument is then made that
it was in this condition when an NBI agent took it and placed it between the pages of the diary.
Sacaguing, who seized the envelope, testified that he found it laid flat, not folded, between the
pages of the diary. (Id., pp. 54-55) While the evidence indicates that the envelope was folded
into four parts when Somera handed it to Cabrera (Id., p. 57; transcript, p. 125, Aug. 26,
1985), it is probable that when it was handed to the respondent judge it was no longer so. The
crease marks are not pronounced, indicating that the envelope was folded only rightly, so that
when Judge Pajares received it, it probably spread out.
Second ** The respondent said he was outraged by the attempt to frame him up, and he protested. (Transcript, pp.
174-175, Oct. 22, 1985) Yet the photographs taken on the occasion of his arrest show him smiling. (See Exhs. B, G
and H). Of course, he explained that he was smiling in 'derision,' (Id., p. 175) and that by nature he is jolly (Id., p. 183).
A smile, however, is not a normal reaction to express outrage.
Third ... The respondent's claim that he thought the money was the complainant's share of the
surveyor's fees is inconsistent with his (the respondent's) admission that the complainant had
told him of his decision not to settle the case. The respondent judge himself said that he had
appointed Engineer Palaypayon to prepare a survey plan for the purpose of segregating the
four hectares which Cabrera would cede to his brothers and sisters in the event of a
settlement, As Cabrera had changed his mind and in fact had filed a motion for the
reconsideration of the respondent judge's order, there was no reason for the respondent judge
to believe that the money was Cabrera's share of the surveyor's fees. The respondent's claim
that a survey plan was anyway needed for the 'final disposition of the case' has no basis,
because what the plaintiffs are seeking is the annulment of the sale of lands to Cabrera on the
theory that the sale was simulated.
Conclusion
The distinction is commonly drawn between instigation and entrapment. In the former, where
officers of the law or their agents incite, induce, instigate or lure an accused into committing
an offense which he otherwise would not commit and has no intention of committing, the
accused cannot be held liable But, in entrapment, where the criminal intent or design to
commit the offense charged originates in the mind of the accused and law enforcement
officials merely facilitate the commission of the crime, the accused cannot justify his conduct.
(See People v. Vinzol (CA) 47 O.G. 294; Sherman v. United States, 356 U.S. 369 [1958]). As
has been said, instigation is a 'trap for unwary innocent,' while entrapment is a 'trap for the
unwary criminal. (Sherman v. United States, supra, at 372)
In the case at bar, there is no claim that the complainant and the NBI agents instigated the
commission of the crime by the respondent. Rather, the respondent's claim is that he was the
victim of a 'frame-up', 9 claim that, as already shown, is without basis. Hence, it is
unnecessary to determine whether the indirect bribery was instigated by the law enforcement
agents. What took place on January 22, 1985 was an entrapment.
While there is evidence of indirect bribery, however, there is none to support the other charge
of acts unbecoming of a judge.
Investigating Justice Mendoza's above statement and analysis of the evidence and a review of the records fully
support the finding that "respondent Judge accepted the money and that he knew it was being given to him by
reason of his office." The Court has time and again stressed that members of the judiciary should display not
only the highest integrity but must at all times conduct themselves in such manner as to be beyond reproach
and suspicion. (Quiz vs. Castano 107 SCRA 196; Montemayor vs. Collado, 107 SCRA 258) The Court had
likewise stressed in De la Paz vs. Inutan (64 SCRA 540) that "the judge is the visible representation of the law
and, more importantly, of justice. From him, the people draw their will and awareness to obey the law. They see
in him an intermediary of justice between two conflicting interests, ... . Thus, for the judge to return that regard,
he must be the first to abide by the law and weave an example for the others to follow. He should be studiously
careful to avoid even the slightest infraction of the law." (See also Fonacier-Abano vs. Ancheta, 107 SCRA
538).
The Court approves the investigator's recommendation in his report that respondent Judge be acquitted for
lack of evidence of the second charge of having committed acts unbecoming of a member of the judiciary.
But the Court is constrained to disapprove his recommendation as to the first charge of indirect bribery which is
fully supported by the evidence that respondent Judge "be suspended from office for 2 years and 4 months,
taking into consideration the penalty prescribed in art. 211 of the Revised Penal Code." The penalty of 2 years
and 4 months imprisonment provided for the criminal offense of indirect bribery may not be equated with the
penalty of separation from the judicial service which is the proper applicable administrative penalty by virtue of
respondent Judge's serious misconduct prejudicial to the judiciary and the public interest.
ACCORDINGLY, respondent Judge is hereby dismissed from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement
benefits and pay and with prejudice to reinstatement in any branch of the government or any of its agencies or
instrumentalities. The Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to return the ten P100.00 bills (Exhibits D-1 to D-10) to
the complainant Atty. Enrico M. Cabrera. This decision is immediately executory.
Teehankee, C.J., Feria, Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Alampay, Cruz and Paras, JJ., concur.
Abad Santos and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

A.M. No. 177-MJ November 27, 1975
CONCEPCION DIA-AONUEVO, complainant,
vs.
MUN. JUDGE BONIFACIO B. BERCACIO OF TABACO, ALBAY, respondent.

MUOZ PALMA, J .:
Respondent, incumbent Municipal Judge of Tabaco, Albay, faces this administrative complaint for conduct
unbecoming a judge on two counts: (1) engaging in the practice of law, and (2) failure to return promptly to
complainant, Concepcion Dia-Aonuevo, the money deposited with him.
The following are the undisputed facts:
Mrs. Concepcion Dia-Aonuevo, to whom We shall refer henceforth as complainant, claims to be a co-owner of
an undivided interest of a certain parcel of irrigated riceland situated in Cabilogan, Sto. Nio, Sto. Domingo,
Albay. This property was the object of a deed of sale executed by Maximo Balibado, Justo Balibado and
Petrona Balibado de Barrios in favor of Alfredo Ong and acknowledged before Municipal Judge Bonifacio
Bercacio, respondent herein, as ex-officio notary public, on January 25, 1972. Having been apprised of the
execution of this deed of sale, complainant went to the office of Judge Bercacio to verify the matter. Upon being
shown a copy of the deed of sale, complainant informed respondent judge that the vendors owned only one-
third undivided portion of the property and that she and other cousins of hers owned two-thirds thereof. Judge
Bercacio advised the complainant to redeem or repurchase the property from the vendee, Alfredo Ong.
Complainant then requested the judge to intercede in their behalf with the vendee to allow them to redeem the
property and for that purpose she gave respondent the amount of P3,500.00 to be used to pay Alfredo Ong.
Respondent agreed and received the amount of P3,500.00 for which he issued the corresponding receipt which
reads:
This is to certify that MRS. CONCEPCION DIA-AONUEVO of Sto. Domingo, Albay, has
deposited with the undersigned, the sum of THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED
(P3,500.00) PESOS Philippine Currency, for the purpose of exercising her right to the legal
redemption of the property sold to MR. ALFREDO ONG by Messrs. Maximo Balibado, Justo
Balibado and Mrs. Petrona B. de Barrios as per Doc. No. 7, Page 3, Book No. 1, Series of
1972, of the Notarial Register of the undersigned, dated Jan. 25, 1972.
Tabaco, Albay, February 23, 1972.
(Sgd.) BONIFACIO B. BERCACIO (Exhibit
C)
Judge
Respondent sent the corresponding letter to Alfredo Ong but the latter did not answer. Forthwith a complaint
was filed on March 8, 1972 with the Court of First Instance of Albay (Civil Case No. 4591) entitled: "Concepcion
Dia-Aonuevo, et al., plaintiffs, versus Maximo Balibado et al., defendants" for "annulment of sale of real
property and redemption with damages." This complaint was prepared on February 26, 1972 by "Eligio R.
Berango & B.B. Bercacio & Ass." as counsel for the plaintiffs, with Eligio R. Berango signing the complaint.
(Exhibit B)
During the pendency of the civil case, complainant asked respondent judge to allow her to withdraw P1,500.00
from the P3,500.00 she had deposited with him as she was then in need of money, but no action was taken by
respondent. The verbal request was followed by a registered letter dated January 24, 1973 advising Judge
Bercacio that complainant herein was withdrawing the amount of P3,500.00 deposited with him and requesting
him to remit the said amount within ten days from receipt of the letter. (Exhibit D) There was still no response
from respondent Judge, hence, another letter was sent dated February 21, 1973, which We quote:
San
Roque
Sto.
Doming
o
Albay
Februar
y 21,
1973
Hon. Bonifacio Bercacio
Municipal Judge of Tabaco
Tabaco Albay
Sir:
This is a tracer of my letter to you dated January 28, 1973, demanding from
you the return of the amount of Three Thousand Five Hundred Pesos
(P3,500.00), which I entrusted to you for the redemption of my land which is
involved in Civil Case No. 4591 entitled "Concepcion Dia-Aonuevo, et al.,
vs. Maximo Balibado, et al.," which is now pending in the Court of First
Instance of Albay, Branch III. Inasmuch as you failed to deposit that amount
to the Clerk of Court, Court of First Instance of Albay, I am demanding from
your good self the return of said amount to me because I need it very badly.
I have spent a lot of money in going back and forth from Sto. Domingo to
your residence to demand from you the amount but of no avail for almost
one year. Failure on your part to comply with the same, I will be constrained
to take the necessary action on the matter against you.
Thank you.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) Mrs. CONCEPCION DIA-
AONUEVO
(Exhibit E)
As the foregoing letter elicited no reaction from the Judge, complainant Mrs. Aonuevo sought the assistance
of a lawyer in the person of Atty. Rodolfo A. Madrid who accordingly wrote to respondent on March 16, 1973,
giving the lattera final period of grace within which to return the sum of P3,500.00, otherwise proper measures
would be taken to protect the interests of his client. (Exhibit F)
Respondent finally broke his silence and answered with a letter given hereunder:
T
a
b
a
c
o
,

A
l
b
a
y

M
a
r
c
h

2
1
,

1
9
7
3
Atty. Rodolfo A. Madrid
El Casino Bldg.
Legazpi City
Dear Dolfo:
I am in receipt today of yours dated the 16th. inst.
Frankly, I am indeed surprised at the tenor of your letter, particularly the
threat it contains despite the explanation I verbally gave you when you
dropped at my office. .
If you would re-examine the receipt I issued to Mrs. Concepcion D.
Aonuevo, dated February 23, 1972, you will note that the amount was
entrusted to me to make it available anytime "for the purpose of exercising
her right to the legal redemption of the property sold to Mr. Alfredo Ong." The
case instituted by the plaintiffs, among whom is Mrs. Aonuevo for the
determination of their right is still pending in Court due to the illness of Judge
Zurbano and the prolonged vacation of the Presiding Judge.
When the money was entrusted to me, I was made to understand that the
amount was not exclusively hers alone. I regret that legal ethics forbid me
from revealing to you what was imparted to me in confidence which I have
the moral obligation to keep inviolate.
Your insinuation of inaction on my part is false because I summoned Mrs.
Aonuevo to my office after I received her letters; she apologized and did not
insist that the money be returned pending the termination of the civil case.
From reliable sources I have learned that she is being made a conveyance
tool for sinister motives and there is ample ground to suspect that this matter
is being used as a vehicle for revenge.
The case now pending in the CFI is being handled by another lawyer who
should have some say on this matter.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) BONIFACIO B. BERCACIO (Exhibit
G)
Due to the non-remittance of the aforementioned amount, Atty. Madrid filed with the Court of First Instance an
urgent motion dated August 20, 1973, praying that Judge Bercacio be directed to consign in court the amount
deposited with him by the plaintiff, Mrs. Aonuevo. (Exhibit H)
Upon receipt of the foregoing motion, respondent manifested to the trial judge that he would be ready to deliver
the money as soon as the plaintiffs won the case. On September 13, 1973, the trial court rendered judgment in
favor of the plaintiffs, and on the same date, issued an order directing Judge Bercacio to deposit with the Clerk
of Court the amount of P3,500.00 within five (5) days from receipt of the order (t.s.n. February 1, 1974, p. 19).
On September 17, Judge Bercacio received a copy of the order and on September 26, 1973, he turned over
the amount to Atty. Rodolfo Madrid (t.s.n. Ibid. pp. 22-24)
1. Respondent violated Section 77 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, which provides in part:
All provisions relative to the observance of office hours and the holding of sessions applicable
to courts of first instance shall likewise apply to municipal judges, but the latter may, after
office hours and with the permission of the district judge concerned, engage in teaching or
other vocation not involving the practice of law ... (Emphasis supplied)
and which was implemented by Circular No. 37 of the Secretary of Justice dated June 22, 1971 to the effect
that
... no Municipal Judge shall ... engage in private practice as a member of the bar or give
professional advice to clients ... (emphasis supplied)
Respondent submits that it was Atty. Berango and not he who assisted the complainant, Mrs. Aonuevo, and
her co-plaintiffs as counsel in the civil case; that when he saw his name in the complaint as one of the lawyers,
he called Atty. Berangos attention to the mistake and this was immediately corrected in the subsequent
pleadings by deleting his name.
Respondent's claim is belied, however, by the active interest he took in the case of Mrs. Aonuevo manifested
as follows: (a) He gave Mrs. Aonuevo legal advice on the remedy available to her and her co-owners with
regards to the property sold to Alfredo Ong. (b) He accepted from Mrs. Aonuevo the sum of P3,500.00 for
purposes of redeeming the property from the vendee, plus P100.00 for incidental expenses (t.s.n. January 28,
1974, p. 9). (c) He wrote to Alfredo Ong for and in behalf of Mrs. Aonuevo and her co-owners offering to
redeem the land in question (t.s.n. February 19, 1974, p. 89). (d) When his attempts at an out-of-court
settlement failed, he caused the filing of the complaint in Civil Case No. 4591 (t.s.n. February 1, 1974, p. 24),
for which he was issued a receipt for docket and legal research fees (t.s.n. February 19, 1974, p. 119). (e) He
was present together with Atty. Berango at the pre-trial of July 5, 1972, and although, as he claims, it was Atty.
Berango who made an appearance for that pre-trial, the trial Judge nonetheless took note of respondent's
presence so that the Order dictated on that occasion reads: "Attys. Berango and Bercacio are notified of the
date of the trial." (t.s.n. February 19, 1974, p. 67)
Moreover, it has not escaped Our attention that as claimed by complainant herein it was respondent Judge who
dealt with her all along in connection with the conduct of her case. This is borne out by the letter of Atty.
Berango asking respondent to collect from Mrs. Aonuevo the amount of P500.00 as his attorney's fees (Annex
3 of respondent's comment, p. 11, rollo), and the fact that respondent invited Mrs. Aonuevo to a conference in
his office to discuss the matter with Atty. Berango. (see Annex A, Ibid., p. 12, rollo) If Atty. Berango indeed was
the lawyer of Mrs. Aonuevo, why did he have to seek the intervention of respondent to collect his attorney's
fees and why did respondent have to call Mrs. Aonuevo to his office for that purpose?
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court or participation in court proceedings but also
includes preparation of pleadings or papers in anticipation of a litigation, giving of legal advice to clients or
persons needing the same, etc. (Martin, Comments on Rules of Court, Vol. 6, 1974 Ed., p. 251; Moran, Rules
of Court, 1970 Ed., Vol. 6, p. 206) Hence, even if we were to accept respondent's explanation that it was Atty.
Berango who represented Mrs. Aonuevo and her co-plaintiffs in court, respondent's actuations as noted
above still fall within the prohibition.
The rule disqualifying a municipal judge from engaging in the practice of law seeks to avoid the evil of possible
use of the power and influence of his office to affect the outcome of a litigation where he is retained as counsel.
Compelling reasons of public policy lie behind this prohibition, and judges are expected to conduct themselves
in such a manner as to preclude any suspicion that they are representing the interests of a party litigant.
2. Respondent's failure to return the amount of P3,500.00 to herein complainant upon her demand is highly
reproachable, to say the least.
Mrs. Aonuevo gave to respondent the aforesaid amount with the understanding that it would be offered to
Alfredo Ong for purposes of redeeming the property sold by Mrs. Aonuevo's co-owners. When Alfredo Ong
refused the extra-judicial offer of redemption, respondent should have either returned the money to Mrs.
Aonuevo or consigned it in court.
Respondent contends that he kept the money because he wanted it ready for payment to the vendee should
the complaint for redemption prosper. In fact, according to respondent, he brought the amount with him during
the pre-trial of July 5, 1972, just in case an amicable settlement would be effected between the parties, but
when this failed, he gave the P3,500.00 to Atty. Berango for custody. However, on April 9, 1973, Atty. Berango
returned to him the money because Mrs. Aonuevo had secured the services of another counsel. Due to this
development, he wrote to complainant herein to come to his office for a conference with Atty. Berango on the
latter's attorney's fee and also in order that she may get back the money she had deposited. (t.s.n. February
19, 1974, pp. 95-100)
The explanation of respondent fails to convince Us of his good faith. Even if we were to concede that his
intention in keeping the money was to have it ready at any time for payment to Alfredo Ong should the civil
case prosper, nevertheless, when complainant herein made demands on him, verbal as well as written, to
return the money, he should have immediately turned it over to complainant to forestall or erase any possible
suspicion that he had spent it; or he could have deposited it in court, anyway, his purpose, as he said, was to
keep the money available at all times.
Respondent's obstinate refusal or failure to accede to complainant's request for almost a year led the latter to
secure the services of another counsel who was compelled what to him must have been an unpleasant task
to ask from no less than a member of the Judiciary the return of the P3,500.00 deposited with the latter
otherwise he would have to take the necessary steps to protect the interest of his client. That demand of Atty.
Madrid was made in March of 1973, but instead of delivering the amount, respondent still held it putting up the
excuse in a letter to Atty. Madrid (see pp. 4-5 of this Decision) that the money did not belong entirely to Mrs.
Aonuevo and that the latter had agreed to his keeping the money during the pendency of the case. That of
course was untrue, because, first, there was nothing in the record to show that the P3,500.00 belonged to
persons other than Mrs. Aonuevo from whom respondent received it, and secondly, it was Mrs. Aonuevo
who had personally been asking all along for the return of said amount. It is to the discredit of respondent that it
took a court order issued on September 13, 1973, for him to return complainant's money to Atty. Madrid.
While the Court does not make a categorical finding that respondent made use of the money deposited with
him, nonetheless, We hold that by his actuations, respondent placed his honesty and integrity under serious
doubt.
Although every office in the government service is a public trust, no position exacts a greater demand on moral
righteousness and uprightness of an individual than a seat in the Judiciary. A magistrate of the law must
comport himself at all times in such a manner that his conduct, official or otherwise, can bear the most
searching scrutiny of the public that looks up to him as the epitome of integrity and justice. To a certain degree,
respondent herein failed to meet these exacting standards of judicial conduct.
WHEREFORE, We find respondent Judge Bonifacio B. Bercacio guilty as charged, and hereby suspend him
from office for a period of six (6) months effective immediately upon finality of this decision, with the warning
that commission of other acts unbecoming of a Judge will warrant a more severe penalty from the Court.
So Ordered.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 91406 July 31, 1990
HEIRS OF JULIO ROSAS HEREIN REPRESENTED IN THIS SUIT BY THEIR ATTORNEY-IN-FACT
MERCEDES ROSAS, petitioners
vs.
HON. OSCAR R. REYES, Presiding Judge of Pasay City Branch 47, Metropolitan Trial Court, CHARRY
CARANAY and SANTIAGO I. BARCENAS, respondents.
Roman C. Cabading for petitioners.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J .:
The issue before this Court in this civil action for certiorari is whether or not after an implied new lease is
created and the court has fixed a definite period for the new lease, the lessor may eject the lessee upon
expiration of said period by a mere motion for execution without instituting anew another action for ejectment,
The petitioners are owners of a residential apartment in Pasay City, a unit of which is being leased by the
private respondents. The latter had been renting the premises as early as February 1984 and their occupancy
was renewed on January 15, 1986 as evidenced by a lease contract which was to expire six months thereafter,
or in June 1986. On February 21, 1987, the petitioners, through counsel, wrote a letter to the private
respondents demanding a higher rental from P1,000.00 to P1,500.00 and that they vacate the premises in the
event that they do not agree to the higher rental. On March 3, 1987, the private respondents replied that they
do not agree to the petitioners' demand for higher rental and alleged that there was an implied renewal of the
lease contract. They paid their rentals which were accepted by the petitioners but upon tender of the rental for
May 1987, the latter refused to accept the same. This prompted the private respondents to deposit with a bank
the rentals for May 1987 and the succeeding months.
In May 1987, the petitioners filed an unlawful detainer suit before the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 47 at
Pasay City. After submission of the evidence based on the rules on summary procedure, the respondent judge
rendered judgment in favor of the petitioners. The private respondents were ordered to vacate the premises.
On appeal by the private respondents, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) reversed the lower court's decision and
dismissed the complaint on the ground that a demand to vacate was not timely made before the expiration of
the old lease contract pursuant to Article 1670 of the Civil Code. Moreover, the RTC judge applied Article 1687
and fixed a new lease period of six months ending on April 30, 1988. The dispositive portion of the decision
reads:
WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court is hereby reversed. Hence, the complaint is
hereby dismissed. However, this Court has to fix the period in accordance with Article 1687 of
the Civil Code and the defendant shall remain in the premises for another six months
beginning from receipt of this order with the same amount of monthly rental as stipulated in
the contract of lease. (Annex C complainant). In short, not later than April 30, 1988. (Rollo, p.
20)
The petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals which rendered a decision on April 27, 1989 affirming the
RTC's decision.
On August 9, 1989, the petitioners filed a motion for execution before the respondent Metropolitan Trial Court
(MTC) judge alleging that the private respondents have not yet vacated the leased premises despite the lapse
of the period given them by the court. Pursuant thereto, the respondent judge issued an order denying the
motion for execution, declaring that since the RTC judgment stating that defendants may stay for a period of six
months from receipt of the decision embodies a mere directive, there is in effect no judgment to be executed. In
his order, the respondent judge likewise reminded the petitioners to institute anew an ejectment case
predicated on valid grounds for ejectment.
The petitioners moved for reconsideration of said order but the respondent judge denied their motion. Hence,
this appeal by certiorari.
The petitioners seek a review of the orders of the respondent judge denying their Motion for Execution and
Motion for Reconsideration and to compel and command the respondent judge to issue a writ of execution to
enforce the aforementioned dispositive portion of the RTC's decision. The petitioners likewise seek
administrative sanctions against the respondent judge.
The dispositive portion of the Regional Trial Court's decision may be segmented into two parts. In the first part,
the complaint for ejectment was dismissed. In the second part, the lower court fixed the period of lease for
another six months from receipt of the court's order, not later than April 30, 1988.
The petitioners aver that while the first part is apparently contradictory to the second part, it is no justification for
the respondent MTC judge to disregard the second portion and to require the filing of a new complaint to
enforce the latter. According to the petitioners, the dispositive portion is the decision to be executed and this
can be enforced by mere motion. They argue that the dispositive portion should have been construed and
harmonized as a whole in order to give meaning to the judgment.
The petition is impressed with merit.
The respondent judge erred in concluding that the part of the dispositive portion which states that:
... defendant shall remain in the premises for another six months beginning from receipt of this
order ... In short, not later than April 30, 1988.
is a mere directive and in effect there is no judgment to be executed. On the contrary, the above-quoted
dispositive portion is part and parcel of an executory judgment which can be enforced by mere motion.
Article 1670 of the Civil Code provides:
If at the end of the contract the lessee should continue enjoying the thing leased for fifteen
days with the acquiescence of the lessor, and unless a notice to the contrary by either party
has previously been given, it is understood that there is an implied new lease, not for the
period of the original contract, but for the time established in Articles 1682 and 1687. The
other terms of the original contract shall be revived.
In the present case, the RTC judge dismissed the ejectment suit because there was no express notice to
vacate within the statutory 15-day period and an implied new lease was created. Accordingly, the judge
proceeded to apply Article 1687 which refers to the lease of urban lands. The pertinent portion of said article
states:
If the period for the lease has not been fixed, it is understood to be from year to year, if the
rent agreed upon is annual, from month to month, if it is monthly, from week to week, if the
rent is to be paid daily. However, even though a monthly rent is paid, and no period for the
lease has been set, the courts may fix a longer term for the lease after the lessee has
occupied the premises for over one year. ...
Since the private respondents have been occupying the leased premises for more than one year, the RTC
judge acted within legal bounds in extending the lease for another six months. The logical consequence of the
foregoing lease extension is that at after the lapse of six months, the private respondent must relinquish
possession of the leased apartment.
The dismissal of the ejectment suit is not with the fixing of the term of the new lease. Both are equally enforce
able by mere motion. Upon expiration of the six-month period, the private respondents have to vacate the
premises and if they do not, a motion for execution of judgment, and not a new ejectment suit, will suffice to
oust them from the leased area. The motion arises from a court decision and any plausible intervening
defenses such as purchase of the premises by the lessee can be raised when the motion is heard. This Court
deplores advice to needlessly file suits which unnecessarily clog judicial dockets and frustrate the speedy
disposition of cases. The respondent's comment and memorandum shows that her case is purely dilatory
relying as it does solely on technicality.
While we hold that the public respondent erred in denying the petitioners' motion for execution, this Court finds
that his disposition of the motion is a mere error of judgment which does not warrant administrative sanctions
against him. There is no showing of bias or other improper motive in the questioned order.
Parenthetically, the petitioners also claim that the private respondents have not been paying the rentals due
from the time the petitioners filed their appeal with the Court of Appeals. In this connection, the private
respondents, through respondent Charry Caranay, answered in their memorandum that they have already
vacated the premises by virtue of an agreement with Editha Rosas, wife of petitioner Eduardo Rosas, and that
Editha Rosas likewise agreed to condone their rental arrearages.
The petitioners, however, manifested that they did not give Editha Rosas authority to act in their behalf as
evidenced by a special power of attorney wherein they appointed Mercedes Rosas, not Editha Rosas, as their
attorney-in-fact.
This Court finds that the agreement to condone the unpaid rental is unenforceable inasmuch as it was entered
into by Editha Rosas without authority of the petitioners. Besides, it would be unfair to exonerate the private
respondents from the payment of rentals. The RTC judge stated in the dipositive portion of his decision that
"the defendant shall remain in the premises for another six months beginning from the receipt of this order with
the same amount of monthly rental as stipulated in the contract of lease ... ." Even if said judgment did not
immediately become executory due to the petitioners' appeal to the appellate court, the private respondents
were legally and morally obligated to pay rentals because they enjoyed and made use of the leased premises.
Their failure to pay plainly constitutes unjust enrichment on their part.
WHEREFORE, except for the imposition of administrative sanctions against the public respondent, the petition
is GRANTED. The orders of the respondent judge dated October 30, 1989 and December 15, 1989 in Civil
Case No. 259-87 are SET ASIDE. The respondent judge is hereby ordered to issue a writ of execution to
enforce the second part of the dispositive portion of the RTC decision in Civil Case No. 5167 ordering the
private respondents and all persons claiming rights under them to vacate Apartment G, 2345 Cinco De Junio
St., Pasay City, if they have not yet vacated the premises. The private respondents are ordered to pay the
unpaid lease rentals due to the petitioners until the time they vacate, or vacated, the leased premises.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. No. 90-474 October 4, 1991
CLEMENCIO C. SABITSANA, JR., complainant
vs.
JUDGE ADRIANO R. VILLAMOR, RTC, BRANCH 16, NAVAL, LEYTE, respondent.

PER CURIAM:p
In an Affidavit-Complaint, dated 7 March 1990, Atty. Clemencio Sabitsana, Jr., a practicing lawyer in Naval,
Biliran Subprovince, Leyte, charged respondent, Judge Adriano R. Villamor of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
16, Naval, Leyte, with falsification of his monthly Certificates of Service by making it appear that he had
resolved all cases submitted for decision within the ninety-day period required by the Judiciary Act of 1948,
Section 5, when actually he had fifteen (15) cases undecided from five (5) years back or from March, 1985.
On 7 August 1990, the Court directed Deputy Court Administrator Juanita A. Bernad to make an on-the-spot
audit of the cases pending in the sala of Respondent Judge. On 2 October 1990, Deputy Court Administrator
Bernad reported that there were, indeed, eighty seven (87) cases undecided beyond the ninety(90)-day
reglementary period as of 3 July 1990, consisting of six (6) criminal cases with prisoners, 36 criminal cases
without prisoners, and forty-five (45) civil cases. Worse the records of two (2) criminal cases and twelve (12)
civil cases were missing. While the records of six (6) criminal cases were not in the Court but acknowledged by
Respondent Judge to have beenin his possession.
Deputy Court Administrator Bernad also noted the dismal state of the Courthouse of the RTC, Branch 16,
which he described as "bereft of any dignity as a court of law" showing 'a lack of financial and moral support of
the local authorities," and observed that the Municipal Court was even better housed.
On 31 October 1990, Complainant further furnished the Court with an Affidavit of Judge Dulcisimo Pitao of the
Municipal Trial Court of Maripipi, Leyte, stating that Respondent had intervened for the accused in Criminal
Case No. 959 then pending with the said Municipal Court. We considered the foregoing as a supplemental
charge of undue interest in apending criminal case.
On 23 November 1990, Complainant again brought to the attention of the Court seven (7) additional cases
submitted for decision, at the earliest since April 1986, still unresolved by Respondent (p. 44, Rollo), even
though the transcripts were ready as early as 1984 in one (1) case.
In his Comment filed on 20 December 1990, Respondent claimed that the Complaint was more for harassment
and vengeance, otherwise, Complainant would not have filed a criminal case against him for Falsification under
Article 171 (4) of the Revised Penal Code before the Ombudsman, based on the same facts alleged in his
Complaint before this Court. Respondent further claimed that he had not violated the 90-day rule since 1
February 1990 when the Court required the adoption of the continuous trial system. He did not deny, however,
that before said date, there were other cases not decided within the 90-day rule, including those listed in the
Complaint allegedly because the transcripts were incomplete. He added that he had no hand in the preparation
of his monthly reports of pending cases; that after he had ordered the person-in-charge of preparing the
Certificates of Service to explain why she had made it appear that said cases were decided within ninety (90)
days from its submission when actually they were not, she stated that he had nothing to do with the preparation
of the monthly report except to sign after she had prepared them.
On 18 April 1991, acting upon a second Report from Deputy Court Administrator Bernad, the Court resolved:
(1) to refer the supplemental charge regarding undue interest in a particular criminal case to Associate Justice
Fermin A. Martin, Jr., of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report and recommendation; (2) to order
Respondent to decide with dispatch cases still unresolved beyond the 90-day-period; and (3) to inform the
Court immediately regarding steps he had taken to retrieve lost records and to personally put his records in
order. To date, Respondent has been unheard from on those directives.
On 12 July 1991, Complainant followed up with another letter complaint stating that the seven cases mentioned
in his letter of 23 November 1990 remained undecided, adding that five (5) cases handled by him were
unresolved since January 1987, not to speak of cases handled by other lawyers.
Judging from the Deputy Court Administrator's two Reports, there is validity to Complainant's charge that
Respondent had failed to decide cases within the 90-day reglementary period notwithstanding "Second Ex-
parte Motions to Decide Case" flied by Complainant (Annexes A to L, Complaint), and that Respondent had
falsified his Certificates of Service for 2 September 1986,3 October 1987, 3 October 1988, 3 November 1989,
and 1 March 1990 (Annexes N to R, Complaint). Respondent's defense that incomplete transcripts of
stenographic notes dissuaded him from deciding those cases for fear of "rendering an injustice" is controverted
by his own stenographic reporter who stated that the transcripts in some of those cases were ready as far back
as 1984 (Comment, Annex "2").
Respondent, however, shifts the blame on his Clerk of Court, Atty. Rogelio Jocobo, who, he claims, was
inefficient in the management of Court records. Respondent forgets, however, that he sits not only to Judge
litigated cases with the least possible delay but that his responsibilities include being an effective manager of
the Court and its personnel. Canon 3, Rule 3.08, of the Code of Judicial Conduct, provides:
A judge should diligently discharge administrative responsibilities, maintain professional
competence in court management, and facilitate the performance of the administrative
functions of other judges and court personnel.
Also expected of a Judge under Rule 3.09 is that:
A judge should organize and supervise the court personnel to ensure the prompt and efficient
dispatch of business, and require at all times the observance of high standards of public
service and fidelity.
As we held in Secretary of Justice vs. Legaspi (A.M. No. 997-CFI, 10 September 1981, 107 SCRA 234):
Respondent, as the incumbent judge, ought to know the cases submitted to him for decision,
particularly those pending for more than ninety days. As a matter of fact, he is supposed to
keep his own record of cases submitted for decision so that he could act on them promptly
and without delay, mindful of the mandate in Section 5 of Republic Act No. 296, also known
as the Judiciary Act of 1948 ... It is expected that he should be more diligent and more vigilant
in attending to cases submitted for decision as well as in the preparation of his monthly
certificates of service by verifying every now and then whether there are cases pending
decision for more than ninety days; because he could be held accountable for any error or
falsification in his certificates. Thus, respondent cannot now escape liability for falsification of
his certificates of service with the lame excuse that he has no knowledge of those cases
pending decision for more than ninety days at the time he submitted his certificates of service.
Nor could he give the excuse that his attention was not called to the cases pending decision
ninety days because he need not be reminded of his deadlines by a subordinate court
employee like the clerk of court. Court employees are not the guardians of a judge's
responsibilities.
In Nidua vs. Lazaro (A.M. No. R-465 MTJ, 29 June 1989, 174SCRA 581), we maintained:
It is incumbent upon him to devise an efficient recording and filing system in his Court so that
no disorderliness can affect the flow of cases and their speedy disposition, particularly those
submitted for decision. A judge cannot take refuge behind the inefficiency or mismanagement
by Court personnel. Proper and efficient court management is as much his responsibility. He
is the one directly responsible for the proper discharge of his official functions.
And in Cipriano vs. Judge Villamor (A.M. No. RTJ-88-207, 22 June 1989, en banc, Minute Resolution) we
ruled,
The Supreme Court cannot countenance such undue delay of a judge especially now when
there is an all-out effort to minimize, if not totally eradicate, the problems of congestion and
delay long plaguing our courts. Thus, judges are called upon to exercise the utmost diligence
and dedication in the performance of their duties. It is a measure of a judge's competence as
an administrator that he is capable of delegating to his personnel those tasks which properly
pertain to them, maintaining, likewise, their trust and confidence in him.
A member of the bench can not pay mere lip service to the 90-day requirement, but should, in fact, persevere
in its implementation. The Certificate of Service is not merely a means to one's paycheck, but an instrument by
which the Courts can fulfill the Constitutional mandate of the people's right to a speedy disposition of cases.
The people's faith in the administration of justice, especially those who belong to the low
income group, would be greatly impaired if decisions are long in coming, more so from trial
courts which unlike collegiate tribunals where there is a need for extended deliberation, could
be expected to act with dispatch. (Magdamo vs. Pahimulin, Adm. Mat. No. 662-MJ, 30
September 1976, 73 SCRA 110).
Additionally, we have to hold respondent inexcusably negligent for failure to account for the records of twelve
(12) civil and two (2) criminal cases.
"A judge is expected to ensure that the records of the cases assigned to his sala are intact. There is no
justification for missing records save fortuitous events. The loss of not one but eight records is indicative of
gross misconduct and inexcusable negligence unbecoming of a judge. For true professionalism in the bench to
exist, judges whose acts demoralize the ethical standards of a judicial office and whose acts demonstrate
unfitness and unworthiness of the prestige and prerequisite attached to said office must be weeded out"
(Longboan vs. Polig, Adm. Mat. No. 704-RTJ, 14 June 1990, 186 SCRA 557).
We come now to the supplemental charge of undue interest in a pending criminal case, subject of the
Investigative Report submitted on 9 August 1991 by Justice Fermin A. Martin, who found the imputation
sufficiently substantiated, and has recommended the on of a fine of P10,000.00.
From that Report, we gather that on 16 July 1987, Respondent, as; Executive Judge of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch XVI, Naval, Biliran Subprovince, Leyte, designated Judge Dulcisimo Pitao, of the Municipal Trial
Court of Maripipi, Leyte, as Acting Judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Biliran-Cabucgayon, Leyte,
which was then vacant, with the directive to allocate two (2) session days a week in his additional sala.
On 19 August 1987, while Judge Pitao was at his residence at Naval, Biliran Subprovince, Leyte, he received a
note handcarried by a woman, whom he came to know later as the wife of Guillermo Lipango, the accused in
Criminal Case No. 959, which had long been pending trial in the 4th MCTC of Biliran-Cabucgayon, Leyte.
The note (Exhibit "A"), written on Respondent's letterhead, reads:
Aug. 19, 1987
Dear Tete,
The bearer is the wife of Guillermo Lipango who has a long pending theft case. If you have
jurisdiction hear and decide. If none,remand it to RTC.
Take care because I learned Big Man Egane is taking much interest because accused is
competing with Ms fishing but only in a small scale. Okay? Thanks.
Sincerely,
Ading.
Sometime later, Judge Pitao sought respondent, as the Executive Judge, regarding his application for leave of
absence which had to be coursed through the latter. During their conversation, respondent mentioned the case
of "People vs. Lipango," asked Judge Pitao whether the latter had received the note, and again warned the
latter about a certain "Big Man Egane," who was backing the complainant therein and that he (Judge Pitao)
better acquit the accused (Tsn., 15 July 1991, pp. 13-14).
On 25 August 1988, after hearing the case, Judge Pitao rendered his decision convicting the accused,
Guillermo Lipango, of the crime of Theft (Exhibit "C") "because the evidence against the accused was very
strong" (ibid., p. 14).
On 16 November 1988, when Judge Pitao went to the boarding house of Respondent to invite the latter to a
birthday party, and while they were walking together, Judge Pitao confided to Respondent that he had
convicted Lipango "because he could not in conscience acquit him" (ibid., p. 17). Irked, Respondent directed
Judge Pitao to forward the records to the former's Court (ibid., p. 18).
On 23 November 1988, the records of Criminal Case No. 959 were elevated to the RTC, Leyte, Branch XVI,
over which Respondent presides, but the case was actually docketed thereat on 5 December 1988.
From 1 to 3 December 1988, Judge Pitao attended the National Convention of Lawyers in Cebu City. Upon his
return, he learned that Judge Meljohn de la Pena had been designated as Acting Judge of the 4th MCTC
Biliran-Cabucgayon, Leyte, and that his designation had been revoked effective 30 November 1988 (ibid., pp.
18-19).
On 9 December 1988, Respondent promulgated his decision acquitting accused-appellant Guillermo Lipango
of the crime charged (Exhibit "F"). This, despite the fact that the records of the case disclosed that no notice
had been sent to the parties of the receipt of the entire record to enable them to submit their respective
memoranda.
For his part, Respondent opted to rely on his six (6)-page Comment, dated 19 December 1990 (Exh. H, pp. 78-
83, Rollo), as his testimony-in-chief As correctly observed by the Investigating Justice, said Comment contains
nothing more than a denial of the charge of falsification and an attribution of ill motive to the Complainant. He
then determined that Respondent is deemed not to have denied:
l) that he sent the handwritten note dated August 19, 1987 (Exhibit "A") to Judge Dulcisimo
Pitao through the wife of the accused Guillermo Lipango;
2) that when Judge Pitao brought his application for leave of absence to respondent as
Executive Judge, respondent took up the matter of the note he sent and the theft case against
accused Guillermo Lipango which was pending trial before Judge Pitao and even hurried the
remark "better acquit him;" and,
3) that he decided the appealed criminal case and acquitted the appellant Guillermo Lipango
although the record of the case disclosed that no notice had been sent yet by the branch clerk
of court to the parties of the receipt of the entire record to enable the parties to submit
memoranda pursuant to Rule 21 of the Interim Rules and Guidelines.
Accordingly, the Investigating Justice came up with the following apt observations and findings:
In sending his handwritten note (Exhibit "A") to Judge Pitao, and through the wife of the
accused Guillermo Lipango, respondent failed to exercise due care. It is true that the contents
of the letter may not have directly exhorted the addressee to decide the case in favor of one
party but to have the wife of the very accused deliver the letter to the municipal judge who will
decide the case and over whom he i respondent) exercised supervision and wielded a degree
of moral ascendancy as Executive Judge was simply a big letdown in the required
circumspection and high ideals expected of a judge. It is a truism that a judge's official
conduct and his behavior in the performance of judicial duties should be free from the
appearance of impropriety (Aleza vs. Reyes, 131 SCRA 445, 453).
Moreover, respondent Judge, while cautioning Judge Pitao to watch out and exercise care in
handling the case supposedly on account of the interest of persons not parties to the case,
made a side remark for the acquittal of the accused. Such a statement, winch was not denied,
was highly improper and was apt to create the impression that he was for the exoneration of
the accused Guillermo Lipango- It tended to influence the trial judge who was going to decide
the case and thus did violence to the lofty principle that "the office of a judge exists for one
solemn end: to promote justice by administering it fairly and impartially" (Gonzales-Austria vs.
Abaya, 176 SCRA 634, 646).
Cardinal is the rule that a Judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.
The Canons mince no words in mandating that a Judge shall refrain from influencing in any manner the
outcome of litigation or dispute pending before another Court (Canon 2, Rule 2.04). Interference by members of
the bench in-pending suits with the end in view of influencing the course or the result of litigation does not only
subvert the independence of the judiciary but also undermines the people's faith in its integrity and impartiality
(Commentaries on the Code of Judicial Conduct). On this point, Impao vs. Makilala (A.M. No. MTJ-88-184, 13
October 1989, 178 SCRA 541) expounds:
It is an important judicial norm that a judge's private as well as official conduct must at all
times be free from the appearance of impropriety [Lugue vs. Kayanan, G.R. No. L-26826,
August 29, 1969, 29 SCRA 165; ...]. As held by the Court in the case of De la Paz vs. Inutan,
Adm. Mat. No. 201 MJ, June 30, 1975, 64 SCRA 540: ... The judge is the visible
representation of the law and, more importantly, of justice. From him, the people draw their
will and awareness to obey the law. They see in him an intermediary of justice between two
conflicting interests, specially in the station of municipal judges, like respondent Judge, who
have that close and direct contact with the people before nobody else in the judiciary. Thus,
for the judge to return that regard, he must be the first to abide by the law and weave an
example for the others to follow.
The Investigating Justice gave one final and pointed observation on respondent's culpability, thus:
The clincher though came when respondent Judge decided the same case which was
appealed to his branch although he knew that no notice had been sent yet by the branch clerk
of court to the parties of the receipt of the entire record to enable the precaution and the
defense to submit memoranda pursuant to Rule 21 of the Interim Rules and Guidelines.
Respondent's excuse was that under the rules, it was (and still is) the duty of the clerk of court
to notify the parties of the fact that the original record of the case, together with the transcripts
and exhibits, had been received (Rule 21, paragraph c, Interim Rules and Guidelines).
Respondent overlooked, however, that the same rule provides that the RTC judge shall
decide the case on the basis of the entire record of the proceedings had in the court of origin
and such memoranda and/or briefs, as may have been filed (paragraph D, Rule 21,Ibid).
Whether or not the accused deserved the acquittal, in point of fact, is of no moment as Respondent's mere act
of interference in a criminal case seals his fate. In administrative proceedings such as this, mere
preponderance of evidence suffices to establish the charges (The Court Administrator vs. Hermoso, et al., A.M.
No. R-97-RTJ, 28 May 1987, 150 SCRA 269).
Upon the facts and the evidence, we can not but hold respondent guilty (1) of having made untruthful
statements in his Certificates of Service, of inexcusable negligence and gross inefficiency in connection with
missing records in his Sala, and of utter indifferences to the directives of this Court; and (2) of serious
misconduct for undue interest in a pending criminal case before a lower Court over which he exercised
supervision, all in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The dilapidated condition of the Courthouse of the
RTC, Branch 16, also betrays a lack of management capabilities desired of a Presiding Judge and an
insensitiveness to the needs of a Court of Justice worthy of its name. All told, we find him unfit to continue with
his membership in the Bench.
WHEREFORE, the Court RESOLVED to DISMISS respondent Judge Adriano R. Villamor, Jr. of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 16, Naval, Leyte, from the service, with forfeiture of all his accrued retirement benefits,
leave and other privileges, if any, and with prejudice to re-employment in any branch, agency or instrumentality
of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations.
Let a copy of this Decision be spread in his personal record.
SO ORDERED.